I don’t think many Rovers fans went into Saturday’s fixture with any feelings other than dread. A side yet to get a point against a side with a 100% win record, it felt like a battering – with a John Marquis goal to rub salt in the wound – was an inevitability.
A worrying injury to Tom Anderson early on only cemented the fear even more, with youngster Brandon Horton substituted into the defence.
However, our reputation as a ‘Bogey Team’ among Pompey fans was heightened. The defence looked solid, and the inclusion of Cameron John allowed Tommy Rowe further up field where he belongs, with his attacking prowess showing as he found the net in the first half. Unfortunately, and confusingly, this was disallowed. I was in line with the linesman’s position as he raised his flag, and I’ve no idea why it didn’t count, even after watching multiple replays.
The most notable aspect of the match was the midfield three of Ben Close, John Bostock and Ethan Galbraith. They ran rings around a highly rated Portsmouth side. The worrying injury to Bostock as the second half drew close to an end mattered not, as substitute Matt Smith came in and held his own following his return from self-isolation. Yet another penalty save from Pontus Dahlberg made it feel even more like a win.
A 0-0 draw flattered Portsmouth, but if you’d asked me if I’d take that result before the match I’d have snapped your hand off.