Pompey ended their pre-season campaign with a defeat to La Liga counterparts Rayo Vallecano but will take plenty of positives from a good performance in an entertaining game.
Despite being the equivalent of three divisions below their opponents, Pompey took the game to the Spainish side and created some chances. Patrick Agyemang burst through the Vallecano defence early on but was halted just before he could get a strike on target.
The best opening for the hosts came when Jed Wallace ran at the opposition defence and his shot was parried to Johnny Ertl who blazed his shot wide from inside the box. Will he ever score for Pompey!?
Anyone who was at Fratton Park could see why Rayo finished 8th in La Liga last season. When they had the ball they seldom gave it away and produced some excellent passes to open up the Pompey defence.
It was only due to some lacklustre finishing or last-ditch defending that Vallecano didn't score earlier than they did. The opening goal came when John Sullivan could only parry Roberto Trashorra's shot to Saballs who headed the rebound in.
Pompey continued to press and play some good football but were undone on the stroke of half-time by Adrian who produced a pearler that found the top corner of the net from the edge of the box. Sullivan had no chance and the goal was applauded by the Fratton Park crowd.
The second started with a flurry and David Connolly had a great chance to reduce the deficit when trying to get on the end of a long punt upfield but he could only head the ball into the goalkeeper's arms.
A load of substitutes, including new man Simon Ferry, made their way onto the pitch to disrupt the flow of the game. Ryan Bird's arrival prompted some fans in the Fratton End to start what seemed to be a neverending "Bird is the word" song which started off as amusing but probably irritated some the crowd as it constantly droned on.
Vallecano came closest to adding a third goal to the game when Arbilla drilled a free kick narrowly over the bar from the edge of the box but in honesty the second half lulled after all the changes.
Overall, it was a good performance, certainly better than the Charlton display and if that can be repeated on Saturday then there is a good chance that Oxford will be beaten.
The team that Guy Whittingham selected for this match will probably be the one that starts against Oxford. Romain Padovani might be replaced by Simon Ferry but the former pinged the ball around the pitch very well today and he was significantly better than what he was against Charlton.
John Sullivan will probably get the nod ahead of Phil Smith judging by recent team selection. He certainly has potential but really needs to learn to catch shots rather than parry them.
The team looked good going forward but the strikers (and midfielders) need to sharpen up and they surely will do as the season progresses. The defence is still a concern as the back four constantly aimlessly cleared the ball straight back to a Vallecano player today.
That's it now, though. Pre-season is officially over and in six days time Fratton Park will be packed in anticipation for the first game of what will hopefully be an excellent season in League Two.
Source: Fratton Faithful