Returning Smith holds head up high

Former Pompey keeper Phil Smith, far left, in goal for Aldershot   Picture: Joe Pepler
Former Pompey keeper Phil Smith, far left, in goal for Aldershot Picture: Joe Pepler

Phil Smith assessed his return to Fratton Park and admitted: It couldn’t really have gone any better.

The Aldershot keeper enjoyed a solid showing in between the sticks for the Conference premier outfit as they emerged with a deserved 2-2 draw and replay against their League Two hosts in the FA Cup first round.

Indeed Smith, who left Pompey in the summer having made five appearances in a two-year stay on the south coast, was only beaten from the penalty spot by Jed Wallace and a tie-saving close-range header from Blues skipper Danny Hollands late on.

For the 34-year-old, it proved to be an enjoyable if unexpected visit to familiar surroundings.

He said: ‘Fratton Park is a special place to play football.

‘When they did the draw, it was a situation where I thought it couldn’t happen – Pompey away.

‘But it did and we’ve come away happy with a decent performance and a replay.

‘It couldn’t really have gone any better.’

Smith had briefly threatened to be the bane of the home side’s afternoon as he made an impressive start to proceedings, denying both Wallace and Craig Westcarr from opening the scoring in the early stages.

But when the deadlock was broken by the former on 16 minutes, the visitors showed their fighting spirit to turn the tie on its head, before Hollands spared the Blues’ blushes late on.

Smith believes the Shots’ display will give them confidence heading into next week’s replay.

Smith said: ‘I’m proud of the way that our lads played and took the game to them.

‘It’s also pleasing for me that I’ve been able to walk out with my head held high.

‘I’ve done alright and the lads have done alright.

‘We can take a lot of positives, especially from the second half.

‘Pompey will now have to come to our place where we enjoy playing and you never know what can happen.’