Portsmouth 0 PNE 0
A hard-working display by the Lilywhites ended with a well-deserved point at Fratton Park.
North End battled the conditions and the decisions, but in the end got the least of what they deserved on a wet afternoon.
The first half saw a dubious penalty end up with justice served as Izale McLeod missed from12 yards, having gone down easily under pressure from Chris Robertson.
It was a strong and disciplined first half display from the Lilywhites, with six changes to the side that lost at home to Crewe the previous week, Chris Beardsley, Joel Byrom as skipper, Bailey Wright and Jack King amongst those restored to the starting line-up.
It started with North End on the front foot as Chris Beardsley won a corner with some excellent forward play. Byrom fired over an inswinger, but the home side countered with a three on one break, however, former PNE loanee Jake Jervis – playing against North End for the third side this season – wasted the chance with a poor pass to McLeod in an offside position.
The dubious penalty was awarded on 13 minutes, but not by referee Dean Whitestone, it was his assistant who raised his flag to his chest as the No.9 fell over as he felt Chris Robertson’s breath on the back of his neck.
McLeod stepped up himself, but smashed the ball against the cross bar and Thorsten Stuckmann claimed as the ball came back in – justice done!
Heavy rain started to fall 15 minutes in and maintained throughout the game, making for an ever more tricky surface.
Midway through the half Pompey keeper Simon Eastwood was needed to make a fine save, turning a Byrom shot round post for a corner after a Shane Cansdell-Sherriff free kick was clipped into the box and knocked down.
Two minutes later Jake Jervis fell over on edge of box giving the home side a free kick 18 yards out in a central position, but when the free kick was eventually taken it was straight into wall.
For the next ten minutes North End dominated position with Stuckmann a mere spectator, which made it surprising when on 37 minutes the big German needed treatment on what appeared to be a left leg injury.
He was able to continue and saw a Chris Robertson drive from 30 yards deflected just wide of right hand post. On the counter attack from the corner Jake Jervis shot from 30 yards, and Stuckmannm back on his feet, palmed wide.
He was needed again two minutes before the break, as a Brian Howard 30 yard piledriver was tipped over by for a corner by the North End No.1.
A great chance for the Lilywhites came just before the break as firstly captain Byrom saw a shot deflected and then Eastwood palmed Chris Beardsley’s effort away after Monakana’s initial ball into the box.
An early double change in the second half saw Stuart Beavon and John Mousinho into the action with Andy Procter and Anthony Elding giving way.
This brought a fresh impetus to the Lilywhites going forward and Beardsley's shot was palmed behind on 58 minutes after some excellent closing down as a unit.
The tempo of the game had stepped up a gear with the changes.
Pompey sub Nathan Mendez-Laing was a pacy threat down the left and saw a shot deflected off Chris Robertson into the side netting with 20 minutes left.
Lee Holmes became North End's third and final change with a quarter of an hour left, replacing Jeffrey Monakana.
With five minutes left Stuckmann showed great reactions to deny Scott Allen a goal with a tip over from 20 yards, with both sides going for the win.
In the final minute Chris Beardsley headed inches over from Jack King's right wing cross.
Four minutes were added on with North End getting a corner in the second minute. Byrom's second cross was met sweetly by Chris Beardsley, but a brilliant block was made by a Pompey defender and the game ended in a hard earned point.
PNE Line-Up: Stuckmann, King, Cansdell-Sherriff, Byrom, Robertson, Wright, Monakana (Holmes, 74), Procter (Mousinho, 53), Elding (Beavon, 54), Beardsley, Buchanan. Subs not used: Simonsen, Amoo, Wroe, Cummins.
: Eastwood, Dumbuya, Harley, Howard, McLeod, Gyepes, Jervis (Mendez-Laing, 61), Ertl, Russell (Williamson, 68), Allan, Rocha. Subs not used: Smith, Walker, Michalik, Harris, Webster.Portsmouth Line-Up
: Mr D WhitestoneReferee