Pompey returned to winning ways yesterday after battling to a 2-1 win over Cambridge United.
The game was certainly a battle as Shaun Derry's tactics seemed to be just to kick the Pompey players and turn the match into a scrap, but Paul Cook's men finally figured out how to win ugly for a change.
There weren't too many chances of note as referee Oliver Langford was the centre of attention due to the amount of niggly fouls he was stopping play for. The home fans were enraged when he failed to send off U's striker Jamie Spencer for numerous offences having booked him early on. It was no surprise to see him get hauled off at the break.
The only moment of quality in the first half came when Pompey took the lead with a clever free kick routine. Michael Doyle played the ball short to Marc McNulty who beat a player before lashing the ball home to give the hosts a deserved lead.
The second half was just as attritional as the first with Kyle Bennett being the only real creative force in the game and he would play a part in the game's second goal.
Adam Webster surged up the pitch and swerved a couple of challenges before Bennett received the ball from him and struck a vicious shot that crashed against the crossbar. Thankfully, Webster continued his run into the box and tucked away the loose ball to double Pompey's lead.
That should've seen the game finished but Gareth Evans gave away a cheap free kick in the last minute. The ball was delivered to the far post where Luke Berry got away from Enda Stevens to score.
That led to a nervy stoppage time but there was to be no heartbreaking equaliser as Pompey ground out a vital win to move back into the play-off places.
Let's not beat around the bush, Cambridge were awful, offered nothing going forward and their plan to emulate Barnet's bully-boy tactics failed due to being outbattled in midfield. Danny Hollands certainly showed how missed he has been whilst Michael Doyle also did a sterling job in marshalling the opposition.
Cook also has to take credit for changing the formation and handing Conor Chaplin a start. Whilst he never really had any chances, he never stopped pressuring Cambridge into rushing their play and making mistakes.
It seems like that Pompey may have sorted their form at Fratton Park now. However, the next three matches are away from home and if this promotion push is to continue then the result yesterday has to be the catalyst for a good run of form to begin.
Pompey Player Ratings
Ryan Fulton: 7 - Anticipated everything but will be gutted not to keep a clean sheet.
Ben Davies: 6 - Not as influential as he could have been.
Christian Burgess: 7 - Solid return to the side.
Adam Webster: 8 - Another stellar performance. So comfortable on the ball.
Enda Stevens: 6 - Fine for the most part but should have been sharper in stoppage time.
Kal Naismith: 5 - Didn't offer too much.
Michael Doyle: 8 - Back to his best yesterday.
Danny Hollands: 7 - Assured presence in midfield.
Kyle Bennett: 7 - Made things happen.
Marc McNulty: 7 - Well-taken goal.
Conor Chaplin: 6 - Worked hard.
Matt Clarke (Chaplin 86): N/A - Perhaps an unnecessary switch?
Gareth Evans (Naismith 73): N/A - Gave away silly free kick.
Ben Tollitt (Bennett 90): N/A - Brought on to waste time.