Pompey kept their third clean sheet in four matches yesterday by playing out a dire goalless draw with Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.
Richie Barker gave three of his new signings their debuts with Daniel Alfei playing at right back, Nicky Shorey playing in midfield and Ryan Taylor playing up front in a formation that was difficult to work out as it seemed to keep changing during the game.
The first half has to be one of the most boring halves of football ever watched. Pompey didn't register a single shot whilst Oxford wasted what few chances they had by sending the ball high or wide of Trevor Carson's goal, who probably shouldn't have even bothered turning up.
The second half was just as poor as the first. The hosts' only real opportunity came when Danny Rose turned in the box and somehow fired wide of the far post when he could have squared the ball to an unmarked Oxford player for a tap in.
There was also a moment of panic when Joe Devera's poor pass let Ryan Williams in but his finish was woefully wide of the target. Pompey's best chance came when Devera almost connected with Jed Wallace's free kick at the far post late on.
But neither side deserved a goal in this drab encounter that will quickly be forgotten by both sets of supporters. Referee Mark Heywood didn't help matters by giving free kicks for niggly little fouls and dishing out cards as if to make up for missing Christmas last year.
However, Alfei may have been lucky to only get away with a yellow card following a late challenge on Jake Wright where he caught the player's leg. A caution was probably the right decision as he was going for a 50/50 ball but some referees would have brandished the red card.
If you want to take the positives from this game then you could look to the new signings in Shorey and Alfei who clearly look like they are a class above this level and along with Sonny Bradley were Pompey's best performers on the day.
Unfortunately, Ryan Taylor is already being labelled as a "shit Dave Kitson" as he looks, moves and plays like him. Whilst all new players should be given a chance to impress, there is a feeling that Taylor is going to have to work harder than most to shake the "useless" tag some fans have already given him.
Jed Wallace's performance was also particularly poor with many pointing out that he's playing like someone who has already secured a move away from Portsmouth. His lack of effort and quality drew anger from some Pompey fans who told him to leave in a not-so-polite way yesterday.
On the bright side, Richie Barker has certainly made Pompey more difficult to beat and should be adding to the squad this week with Wes Fogden's imminent arrival and perhaps one or two others, too.
Portsmouth may only be a point above the relegation places but so long as the players build on this performance then there shouldn't be any danger of going down to non-league football come April, even if the football is ugly to watch.
Pompey Player Ratings
Trevor Carson: 6 - Little to do.
Daniel Alfei: 7 - Looks like a good signing.
Sonny Bradley: 7 - Getting back to his best.
Joe Devera: 6 - Made one huge error but generally did well.
Marcos Painter: 6 - May have done enough to earn a new contract.
Nicky Shorey: 7 - A calm influence in midfield.
Thery Racon: 5 - Constantly gave the ball away.
Simon Ferry: 6 - Worked hard.
Jed Wallace: 4 - Did not look interested at times.
Patrick Agyemang: 5 - No impact having been marked out of the game.
Ryan Taylor: 5 - Not a great debut although had little service.
Johnny Ertl (Taylor 90): N/A - Time wasting change.
Romain Padovani (Racon 77): N/A - No time to get into the game.
Ryan Bird (Agyemang 72): N/A - No impact.