Not great but a step in the right direction
IT wasn't always pretty, but that's the sort of fighting spirit we want to see from Cheltenham Town.
In a gutsy performance we twice came from behind to grab a point and almost snatched all three with a last-second Terry Gornell goal being disallowed.
The talk before the match centred around the decision to drop captain Russell Penn to the bench but after his dire performance against Bury last week this wasn't a big surprise.
The large travelling Portsmouth contingent didn't need any encouragement to raise their voices and after only five minutes we conceded another limp goal.
We soon found ourselves under waves of Portsmouth attacks and with both Cheltenham full-backs struggling it looked like an uphill battle.
The injury curse continued as Ryan Inniss hobbled off and Russell Penn's first involvement as substitute was to lunge into a tackle and come away with the ball. The pent-up frustration of being dropped was witnessed in that tackle and it visibly roused the players and fans. A great pass from Terry Gornell allowed Jermaine McGlashan to round the goalkeeper and slot home.
After getting back on level terms we shot ourselves in the foot. We conceded cheap possession and a quick Portsmouth counter left Johannes Ertl unmarked at the back post.
In the second half we pressed and harried with most of our best attacks coming from neat midfield passing with David Noble prominent and always willing to receive the ball under pressure. His two performances to date have been excellent.
Just as it seemed the equaliser would never come Jermaine McGlashan nipped in front of his full-back to stab home. We were nearly in wonderland when, with the last kick of the match, Terry Gornell scrambled the ball in but it was cruelly ruled out for offside.
This wasn't a vintage performance by any stretch but we showed some great battling qualities. The management will know they still have plenty of work to do and need to find the right team balance.
Hopefully our season starts now... but we can't keep saying that.