Solidity is the starting point

It’s not quite time for cartwheels of celebration just yet.

By Steve Wilson
Monday, 22nd December 2014, 8:00 am
Gary Waddock looks on as Pompey halt their away-day woes. Picture: Joe Pepler
Gary Waddock looks on as Pompey halt their away-day woes. Picture: Joe Pepler

A 1-1 draw against a Cheltenham Town side, which will not be anywhere close to the League Two promotion shake-up this season, is unlikely to rank among the more famous away days Pompey fans will recount in years to come.

But this was definitely a small step in the right direction.

That brittleness under pressure, the flimsy mental application and those infuriating basic errors that have blighted recent trips were gone.

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In their place, there was at last a solid start to the contest, people doing their defensive jobs for the most part and more drive and urgency in the attacking play.

Pompey enjoyed decent spells of possession, carving out one flowing move in the first half that ended in Nigel Atangana dragging his effort wide.

But it didn’t happen frequently and boss Andy Awford will look back on the occasions when the final pass was wasted from decent positions, which should have increased the pressure on the Cheltenham goal.

That extra bit of quality to pick out the right pass to open up the defence or produce the perfect cross wasn’t quite there as often as he would have liked.

The return to a 4-2-3-1 formation afforded more protection to the defence but it also meant Ryan Taylor was left isolated at times.

But let’s remember this is a work in progress.

Most importantly, Pompey looked like a team that was harder to beat again.

And it meant they claimed their first point on the road since October.

Had they shown a little more belief, it might have been all three.

Once Atangana fired the equaliser, it was Pompey who got the visible lift to underline their second-half superiority.

But as the game wore on, there was an understandable hint of accepting a point as a starting point.

In reality, Pompey might have stolen the points late on when Paul Robinson’s shot flashed past the post.

But all things considered, a draw was no disaster and stopped the away-day bleeding at least.

It won’t stop people pointing out the fact Pompey remain the lowest scorers on their travels in League Two with five goals from 11 games.

And they still have just one win to their name on the road – that 1-0 success at Oxford way back in August.

Only the irrational expected the problems to be resolved in an instant.

But this was a start.