Can this Portsmouth defence stand firm in manner we doubted after Bolton rearguard action?
Pompey writer Jordan Cross delivers the final verdict on a hard-earned and at times ugly 1-0 win at Bolton.
We can all pinpoint the matches this season when it’s happened.
Pompey put themselves in a position to harvest a satisfying return from a game.
But then the rearguard action has failed to stand firm, as they’ve dropped deeper and deeper in an effort to see out the result.
Gillingham on New Year’s Day was the most recent example of such a scenario occurring, but you can go back to Peterborough, Oxford, Bristol Rovers and Wycombe for other cases in the file.
But at Bolton, Kenny Jackett’s side stood strong to see out the victory as limbs were put on the line for the points.
The fact it came in an ugly game against a side at the foot of the table seemed to taint that achievement.
But the stats show before their previous home loss to Burton the Trotters had won three and drawn two of their fixtures at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Christian Burgess and James Bolton’s doggedness stuck out, in particular, in a performance that gives hope this defence of Pompey’s is up to the task of standing firm in a manner many of us doubted.
Taking a Kicking
Ellis Harrison gave mock applause to the home fans as he was withdrawn in the second half at Bolton as public enemy number one.
Harrison had drawn the ire of the Wanderers faithful after a running battle with their back line which once again showed how important he’s becoming to Kenny Jackett’s side.
The clash with Keith Hill’s side was the epitome of that promise as Harrison once again was kicked around by the home defence - and gave as good as he got.
In his 10th league start on the bounce, the 25-year-old showed how important he’s become to his team’s approach.
Keeping It Up
But in the four games the 21-year-old has been favoured over Craig MacGillivray, he’s justified Kenny Jackett’s decision to show faith in him.
And there’s little doubt the academy graduate deserved his reward of a clean sheet in Saturday’s 1-0 win.
Bolton, aware of Bass’ relative inexperience, clearly targeted the keeper, dropping a succession of corners and deadballs on him to see how he'd stand up.
They were left disappointed, however, as the level-headed lad confidently came for and claimed what was thrown at him.
When that didn’t happen, the home side were penalised for fouls.
It was also encouraging to see Bass make a number of important stops when Pompey’s stoic defence was breached, in a display which sees his promising reputation continue to grow.