Portsmouth 2 Charlton 2: Neil Allen's verdict - Agonising point yet so much to savour about Blues with impressive statement
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Saturday’s entertaining encounter commenced with Charlton’s followers gloatingly chanting ‘We always win at Fratton Park’. By its 2-2 conclusion, they were crowing about ‘Never losing’.
Such a detail cannot be considered a minor win for Pompey, of course. Scrambling around for a shred of positivity and declaring a football song re-write as a reason to smile would clearly be desperate.
As would proudly announcing the lifting of the curse, with Saturday’s outcome representing just the second time in 27 years that the Blues have not slumped to defeat at home to the Addicks.
Nonetheless, it still means Pompey have triumphed just once in their last 12 south-coast outings against the South London club – and that arrived in April 2005 under Alain Perrin.
Rather the reason for the Fratton faithful to be cheerful centres solely on their performance.
It matters not this weekend saw their League One lead cut to a mere point, for John Mousinho’s men produced a manner of display which provided more compelling evidence that his really could be their year.
Certainly most of those of Pompey persuasion among the 19,404 crowd would have departed impressed, irrespective of being forced to accept a point following substitute Conor McGrandles’ 93rd-minute leveller.
Some were resisting embracing the Blues as genuine promotion challengers until they had safely negotiated the November visit of their bogey team.
Well, it may been another failure to topple Charlton on home territory, yet surely such doubters have now been reassured having witnessed a strong showing from the league leaders.
Pompey were significantly the better team. Granted, they were wasteful up front and conceded two awful goals, both arriving at Will Norris’ near post, yet there remains plenty to applaud.
Had it not been for the heroics of the masked Ashley Maynard-Brewer in goal and a crossbar struck twice within three seconds, it would have been a thumping victory for the hosts.
And that’s precisely why the Blues fans departed Fratton Park on Saturday evening buoyed rather than deflated following a heartening 90 minutes which refused to be punctured by a last-gasp equaliser.
It was a display brimming with excellent performances, in contrast to the Chesterfield debacle, with Alex Robertson head and shoulders the finest footballer on the pitch.
The Manchester City loanee, who continues to keep the seat warm for skipper Marlon Pack deep in the centre of midfield, was magnificent and at the heart of everything impressive about his side.
During his short time at Fratton Park, the 20-year-old has operated in a number of positions and excelled in all, while, for his age, his consistency and maintained levels of quality are remarkable.
Robertson’s positivity, vision and composure on the ball was superb, with occasional flashes of class absolutely out of place in League One circles.
The blossoming Paddy Lane also shone, earning a 75th-minute penalty after Charlton’s keeper poleaxed him as he burst into the box, with Colby Bishop netting from the spot.
The 22-year-old, who now joins up with the Northern Ireland squad, is enjoying a fine season and, having started the last 10 league matches, is understandably now a right-wing fixture.
Yet while they were the stand-out performers, there was so much to savour about the Blues as a team who, aside from a 10-minute spell before Abu Kamara’s first-half opener, produced some excellent football.
What a goal it was from the Norwich loanee too, connecting with a right-footed volley from inside the D after Robertson’s left-wing corner had been headed clear.
However, Mousinho’s troops spurned numerous chances to extend that lead, particularly after the interval, with Kamara and Bishop both striking the woodwork in the same move on 64 minutes.
Then Alfie May squeezed in an equaliser at Norris’ near post with 20 minutes remaining – until Bishop’s penalty restored the advantage.
As the encounter entered stoppage time, an angled ball towards the far post drifted just over the head of substitute Zak Swanson and McGrandles’ soft header from the corner of the six-yard box somehow went under Norris to make it 2-2.
Frustratingly, Pompey had contrived to let slip a fully-deserved victory at the death, admittedly entirely self-inflicted through carelessness at both ends.
Still, they won many admirers during the match and if some were not convinced over the Blues’ promotion credentials, they now should be.