Neil Warnock's second match as manager of Leeds United lacked the drama or the points return of the first, when his new club overturned a two-goal deficit to beat Doncaster 3-2, but a gritty Portsmouth team with a statement of their own to make can take much of the credit for that. In administration, unpaid and unsure of their future, Michael Appleton's team fought hard and could have won.
However, Warnock's new side stood up to what he called a "bombardment" and made good chances of their own, which suggests that they could still make a late run for the play-offs. "I think there are stronger teams outside the top six than us," he said. "But it would be great to finish my career with another promotion.
"It's massive, this club," he added. "There's 50-metre swimming pool at the training ground. You don't get that at Hartlepool. I work better when I've got crowds behind me, and the Leeds fans have made it clear that they want me. You look at the numbers here, miles from Yorkshire – that's what whets your appetite. I'm hoping there'll be 30,000 [at Elland Road for the visit of Southampton] next week."
Portsmouth yesterday did their best to show what raucous support can achieve. For their first home match since entering administration for the second time in three years, they had cut admission prices by £5 in a bid to "pack the park", but although the crowd was over 2,000 below the best of the season, those who turned up made plenty of noise.
In response, Portsmouth were quicker to every ball in the first half but could not make their superiority count. Joel Ward's header from Greg Halford's throw was held by Andy Lonergan, the Leeds goalkeeper, and Hayden Mullins' shot went through Lonergan's hands but over the bar.
In first-half injury time, Phil Gibbs, the referee, failed to spot a blatant handling offence as the Leeds defender Tom Lees punched away Halford's ball in from the left.
After the interval, Leeds' quality began to tell. Ross McCormack's rocket shot rebounded from the underside of the crossbar, and both Luciano Becchio and Leigh Bromby were denied by Stephen Henderson.
"McCormack's shot was a metre over the line, I've seen the replays," Warnock said. "In fairness, it's a cert handball against us in the first half."
Portsmouth came again, Lonergan clawing aside George Thorne's 20-yard effort and getting lucky when Halford's long throw went into the net for a goal-kick despite claims by Benjani that he had got a touch.
"The first half was 100mph, like Wacky Races, but I thought we made some good chances in the second half," Warnock said. "I can't fault the effort and endeavour."
Despite a brave display, Portsmouth are second from bottom of the table and without without a win in five matches. "It's not easy, but we've got to move on," Appleton said. "Next week is the start of eight games in a month, and regardless of how the table looks now, it's the 28th of April that I'm worried about."
Portsmouth (4-4-1-1): Henderson; Mokoena, Rocha, Pearce, Ben Haim; Halford, Mullins, Thorne, Ward; Allan (Norris, 76); Futacs (Benjani, 76).
Leeds (4-3-1-2): Lonergan; Bruce (Bromby, 13), Lees, O'Dea, Pugh; White, Clayton, Brown; Snodgrass; Becchio, McCormack.
Referee Philip Gibbs.
Man of the match Allan (Portsmouth).
Match rating 5/10.Reuse content