The Cherries started the new League season with 3 debutants in the form of Elphick (from Brighton), O'Kane (from Torquay) and Barnard (on loan from the South Coast Club) in a side that *should* be fairly familiar with each other from back to front - more of that later.
It came as no surprise that Portsmouth came out with a point to prove, running on pure adrenalin as the make-shift home side of 11 debutants, all on one-month contracts came out all guns blazing, back by 15000 home fans, winning 3 quick corners in the first couple of minutes.
Not to be outdone, the Cherries did break nicely in the 7th minute, in a move which saw Thomas wriggle through the Pompey back line to fire against the left hand upright with the keeper beaten all ends up.
The largely one-way traffic towards the Cherries goal continued as the Pompey pressed fo the opening goal, which eventually came in the 19th minute. McLeod (ex-Barnet) charged forward from the half way line towards the Fratton End of the ground, shooting from fully 30-yards. Inexplicably Jalal allowed the ball to wriggle through his legs in front of the home support!! Another Jalal slip almost allowed the same player in again, thankfully the effort went high and over the cross bar.
Jalal did make amends for his earlier slip when tipping a rasping shot past the post for another Pompey corner.
Just before the break the Cherries had a great chance to level, Addison couldn't get the ball out from between his feet. When the ball broke to MacDonald he scuffed his 'shot' which was tame in the extreme.
Thankfully the second period was more cohesive from the Cherries as they managed to string more passes together and go forward more as a team as opposed to a collection of individuals. Increasingly in the second period, the ball was fed out right for Francis to cross the ball in to the centre, who was one of the more effective players on the pitch.
It was beginning to look like 'one of those days' when, between them, Thomas and Grabban, managed to fire the ball straight at the keeper or wide of the mark when it might have been easier to score. A great opportunity missed in the 64th minute. So should have been the effort tipped over the cross-bar in the 72nd minute.
With the Cherries beginning to assert themselves the equaliser eventually came as the Pompey players started to flag. A peach of a cross from Francis landed on the head of Barnard who headed home from close range in the 78th minute.
The goal saw the Cherries go for the winner, but it wasn't to be as both sides settled for an honourable draw, even though Pompey did hit the woodwork late on.
Fair play to Pompey for making to the start of the new season - the moral victory goes to Pompey. AFCB were in a no-win situation today. I'd hate to see them (or any club) go out of business, but feel they have an uphill battle to find the extra millions the fans need to save the day. As for the Cherries, given the amount of money spent on the squad there's a great deal that needs to be done to get the current squad up to scratch.
Jalal - the slip for the goal didn't endear himself, but wasn't overly tested otherwise.
Defence - the most coherent unit on the pitch for the Cherries
Francis - was competent at right back. Not too many are going to get past him.
Addison - so much for piling more pain on Pompey, as quoted at the end of last week. Didn't do too much wrong, but needs to forge a partnership with his fellow centre back - who ever that is going to be.
Elphick - a competent debut.
Daniels - looked isolated at left back at times without a great deal of support at times.
Midfield - lacks cohesion and someone to close down the oppostion - akin to the partnership we saw between Hollands and Robinson a few years ago, with an outlet down the wings - narrow play.
Partington - got caught too many times, a bit slow with his distribution.
Pugh - poor on free kicks and delivery this afternoon (for whatever reason). Neat jinking runs, with out a great deal of support.
MacDonald - looked rusty.
O'Kane - ran his socks off, a very competent debut.
Thomas - hit the post, but missed other opportunities. Not sure what it is when he gets in front of goal. Has got to bring this drought to and end? Plus can he and Tubbs actually play together?
Barnard - a good debut for the loanee. Took his goal well to the displeasure of the locals! My man of the match.
Arter - runs around in his customary fashion.
Tubbs - did okay when he came on without a great deal of service.
AFCB: Jalal, Francis, Elphick, Addison, Daniels, Partington, Pugh, MacDonald, O'Kane, Thomas, Barnard
Subs: Collins, Cook, Zubar, Wakefield, Grabban (for MacDonald, 63 mins), Arter (for Partington, 73 mins), Tubbs (for Thomas, 74 mins)
Andy Burton, Fratton, Portsmouth