Pompey will travel to Loftus Road on Tuesday, February 5th to settle their F.A. Cup tie with QPR after holding the Championship side to a draw at Fratton Park yesterday.
The match took a while to reach its potential as the first half lacked any real quality with both sides cancelling each other out. Rangers began to assert some pressure towards the end of the half but Craig MacGillivray only had the one save to make, claiming an attempt by Joel Lynch who would have greater success in finding the net in the second half.
The biggest talking point of the half was Brett Pitman's disallowed goal for a supposed foul by the Pompey striker but there seemed to be little in it. Pitman barely protested the decision, however, and for a player known for airing his opinions to the officials not to protest, suggests that he was guilty of foul play.
The impressive Louis Dennis then forced Joe Lumley to tip his volley over the bar at the end of the half which signified what was about to come, as the second half was of much higher quality than the first.
Pitman wasted the best chance of the game after collecting a lovely ball over the top from Dennis, but his volley missed the target. He then missed again when meeting Gareth Evans' corner with a header but the pressure on the QPR goal was increasing.
Their defenders failed to clear the ball properly and it fell to Lee Brown whose effort on goal was diverted into the net by Lynch despite the tannoy announcer claiming it was Brown's goal. The player himself stated after the match he wouldn't have the audacity to claim it.
The goal arrived on 63 minutes when the planned applause for the late Mark Webster was due to take place, but he surely would have been delighted for his team to take the lead and the goal to be cheered by a sold out Fratton crowd.
Unfortunately that lead didn't last too long as a corner caused chaos in the Pompey penalty area and despite MacGillivray's best attempts to keep the ball out, Nakhi Wells poached an equaliser from all of a yard out.
A mass melee broke out after that with Ronan Curtis clashing with Josh Scowen. After both teams were separated, Lynch, Scowen and Curtis were all booked and the Irishman will now miss the replay due to picking up his second booking of the competition.
That was the last meaningful action of the match as Pompey earned a replay that they didn't really want given the demands of their league fixtures but at least this performance went some way to banishing the last two woeful showings in the league.
The back four were excellent as a unit and kept the QPR attack quiet whilst Dennis proved that he is deserving of more game time after he shone in his attacking role thanks to his energetic runs and clever passing. If only Pitman could rediscover his scoring touch? Perhaps he will when it really counts...
Still, Pompey are in the hat for the fifth round draw tomorrow. Personally, I would hope for a match either against one of the big Premier League sides (and only United, City and Chelsea remain of those six) or a winnable tie against opposition from League One or Two.
Any other draw and I wouldn't be too unhappy if QPR won the replay and there are many other fans who share that view. After all, it's the league that's the priority and more cup fixtures will only make an exhausting fixture list heavier.
Speaking of the league, Pompey's reign at the top of League One is over for now as Luton predictably won at Southend yesterday, placing even more significance on Tuesday's match. Barnsley also won to go within two points of the Blues having played an equal number of games.
Realistically it's looking like a five way showdown for the two automatic promotion places with Sunderland and Charlton also in the mix. Action on and off the pitch next week will have a massive bearing on just how likely Pompey are going to remain in those top two positions.
At least yesterday's performance will give the players some confidence going into their biggest game of the season on Tuesday.
Pompey Player Ratings
Craig MacGillivray: 6 - Well protected by his defence for the most part.
Anton Walkes: 7 - Bounced back from awful Oxford showing with an assured performance.
Matt Clarke: 8 - Looked every bit a Championship level player.
Jack Whatmough: 8 - Made a couple of extremely important interceptions.
Lee Brown: 7 - Played his part in the goal but went about his defensive duties efficiently.
Tom Naylor: 7 - Always busy.
Dion Donohue: 6 - Worked hard but talent is wasted in the centre.
Gareth Evans: 6 - Not as his most effective.
Louis Dennis: 7 - Incredibly bright second half which puts him in the frame for Tuesday.
Ronan Curtis: 5 - Still struggling to make things happen.
Brett Pitman: 5 - Should have scored at least one.
Ben Close (Donohue 80): N/A - Little time to do anything.