Pompey 0 Oxford United 0

  • Hermann Hreidarsson is the half-time singalong star
  • Jed Wallace and Matt Tubbs go close in Fratton Park stalemate
  • Michael Appleton’s side hold out for a point

Rolling back the years, Hermann Hreidarsson had Fratton Park rocking.

Except not a football was in sight as the timeless Pompey favourite performed on the pitch.

Prising the microphone from ‘Touchline’ Tony Male’s hands, he embarked on a rendition of ‘When Sol Went Up...’ in his own inimitable way.

The half-time antics from the charismatic Icelander lit up Saturday’s occasion, providing joy, smiles and a delicious moment.

Comfortably a man-of-the-match display from Hreidarsson.

There was a football match also taking place of course, not that it will linger particularly long in the memory of anyone present.

Goalless, lacklustre in parts, certainly lacking in excitement, while there was a dearth of quality on occasions, particularly from Oxford.

Instead the show was stolen by an impromptu sing-song from one of the heroes of the 2008 FA Cup-winning side back at Fratton Park in a spectator capacity.

Pompey fans’ adulation for the crazy left-back will never diminish.

Meanwhile, chants of ‘England’s number one’ rang out from the Fratton end in the 28th minute when David James was spotted in the South Stand, accompanying Hreidarsson.

Another cheerful high spot during the visit of the U’s and their ex-Blues boss Michael Appleton.

In fact, the presence of both Hreidarsson and James upstaged the return of Appleton, who instead kept a low profile.

Not so much as a clap or boo in his direction from the home crowd as he preferred to keep away from the public glare during proceedings.

Yet there was a match taking place amid all this, it’s just it failed to inspire too many present – unlike Hermann.

Not wishing to take anything away from Andy Awford’s remarkable February achievement, you understand. Far from it.

In six matches last month, the Blues were undefeated – picking up 14 points and rising four places in the process.

They also registered 11 goals and recorded four clean sheets, while utilising only 13 different players in their starting line-ups.

Impressively unrecognisable to the team which has stuttered and stammered its way through most of a season of frustration.

Throw in an excellent draw at Wycombe on the final day of January and that is a total of seven matches without defeat.

Surely the boss who came so close to losing his job in the build-up to that Adams Park fixture is heading the League Two manager-of-the-month shortlist for February.

On Saturday, however, there were no Cambridge fireworks, neither on show were the barnstorming finales as witnessed against Exeter City and Tranmere Rovers.

It was a rather more mundane encounter and, crucially, lacked Pompey goals.

Awford’s men should have won it, in fact they would have taken the points had it not been for two marvellous saves from Ryan Clarke during the first half.

They also bossed possession against a workmanlike Oxford outfit who swiftly settled for a point yet showed admirable determination as they did so.

Certainly the Blues defence were never under any particular pressure, the absence of the injured Jack Whatmough failing to have a telling impact.

It was a confidence boost for Ben Chorley, who was back in the side following five games out having limped off late on in the Wycombe draw.

Despite the frequent looks of suspicion in his direction from some whenever he starts for Pompey, the central defender let no-one down on his recall, performing solidly.

The other change saw Nigel Atangana start in the centre of midfield for the suspended James Dunne.

The Frenchman – an obvious choice to partner Danny Hollands – was industrious and fearless on the ball, although beaten in the tackle rather too easily on several occasions in the second half.

Irrespective of Dunne’s much-missed absence, the Pompey midfield controlled large parts of the fixture, retaining the ball far better than their Oxford counterparts.

But still that breakthrough never arrived as a goalless draw was played out in front of a crowd of 16,355.

Wallace drew one of Clarke’s fine saves in the 16th minute when he surged forward and powered in a right-foot shot.

The Oxford keeper flung himself to his left to finger-tip the ball around the post, much to the young midfielder’s disbelief. Then, in the 42nd minute, Dan Butler’s cross from the left was headed goalwards by Matt Tubbs, only for Clarke to arch his back and tip it over the bar.

Sandwiched between those moments there was a disappointing far-post header by Paul Robinson.

The in-form defender somewhow nodded Butler’s free-kick, delivered from the right, well over the bar.

They were Pompey’s most potent moments during the first half, with fewer following in the second period.

On 55 minutes, Johnny Mullins failed to deal with a ball over the top, instead letting it skim off the top of his head to release the lurking Tubbs inside the penalty area.

The striker then fired in a right-foot shot from the angle across the face of goal without testing Clarke.

Barely a minute later, Wallace fizzed one over the bar after Danny Hylton had misplaced a pass while attempting to help out his defence.

That proved to be it from the hosts, even if they did step up the pressure considerably as the clock ticked down, roared on, as ever, by the Fratton faithful.

Awford threw on Andy Barcham and Craig Westcarr in an attempt to inspire a breakthrough but it never arrived as the U’s defended manfully.

Even when Ryan Taylor did break through in the dying moments, a magnificent tackle from skipper Jake Wright dispossessed him at the crucial moment inside the box.

So a draw it was for Awford’s men, who now head to Northampton tomorrow seeking to maintain this remarkable resurgence.

Awford has his side ticking along nicely at present, as they flirt with the idea of a play-off push in the home straight.

Not that anybody present at Fratton Park on Saturday should be disappointed with what they saw – after all, Hreidarsson gave a wonderfully-entertaining performance.

Click here to watch the Fratton faithful applaud Pompey off after the League Two draw with Oxford United.