Derby 1 Portsmouth 1: Neil Allen's verdict - Pride Park boos reflect encouraging marker in bright Blues' ongoing evolution

Pompey's players celebrate Colby Bishop's 95th-minute leveller at Pride Park. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages
Pompey's players celebrate Colby Bishop's 95th-minute leveller at Pride Park. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

On Saturday, Derby enjoyed 44 per cent possession, provided the least amount of shots – both on and off target – while registered the fewest corners.

At least they managed to capture the greatest number in one category – fouls committed.

They had also just conceded a 95th-minute equaliser to Pompey. Incidentally, netted by a huge Nottingham Forest fan who previously spent eight years on the Rams’ books.

Clearly the ire among a section of the 27,999 crowd was directed at Derby’s players and management at the final whistle rather than match officials or any other sideshow.

Paul Warne’s men are currently 11th in League One – and in their latest disappointing outing had largely been second best to Pompey.

Certainly that’s if the match statistics are to be believed. Or, if you prefer another source of evidence, backed up by our own eyes.

John Mousinho’s troops’ strength of performance prompted Rams followers to turn on their own side at Pride Park. Truly damning.

Admittedly, the hosts had been on track to claim an undeserved triumph when the encounter entered six minutes of time added-on.

The validity of the 85th-minute penalty given against Regan Poole when Tom Barkhuizen’s right-wing cross struck his right arm was afterwards debated and disputed by the Pompey camp.

Regardless, three points for Derby on that lacklustre performance would have represented a startling injustice.

Likewise, perhaps Pompey themselves didn’t warrant victory, despite being the dominant side overall and exceptionally comfortable for the majority of the game.

In truth, neither goalkeeper was particularly tested, albeit Will Norris the least busy, while the visitors’ best attacking spell was in the aftermath of James Collins’ penalty.

Still, the Blues controlled much of the proceedings, demonstrating confidence on the ball throughout and displaying a reassuring confidence.

Indeed, the host fans had long been silenced as the magnificent 2,927 travelling support seized control of the atmosphere. That was until the Rams faithful found their voice following the spot-kick good fortune.

Then Gavin Whyte drove in a cross from the right, substitute Terry Devlin helped it on, there was a deflection, and Colby Bishop converted for his fourth goal in nine matches this season.

If Mousinho wished to lay down a marker concerning the encouraging potential of this overhauled Pompey squad, then Pride Park was it.

Granted, this was a 1-1 draw, merely a single point achieved deep into stoppage time, yet it was the manner of display which should hearten Blues followers on one of the toughest trips in this division.

The Blues passed the ball around well, full of communication and cohesion, while, on occasions, showed glimpses of being a very good League One side.

Defensively, the strength of the backline has long been obvious, with Zak Swanson absolutely outstanding as he continues to deputise for the suspended Joe Rafferty.

The youngster’s Pride Park performance doesn’t merely throw up an interesting right-back selection dilemma for when his rival returns against Barnsley on Tuesday night, but emphasises the immense depth of quality in this squad,

Joe Morrell was missing through suspension at Derby, while Christian Saydee had a hamstring concern, joining Rafferty, Kusini Yengi, Anthony Scully and Tom Lowery on the sidelines.

Yet Mousinho was still able to call upon the likes of Paddy Lane and Alex Robertson into his side, while Tino Anjorin had to made do with the bench for his first squad involvement, with Koby Mottoh 19th man.

The outcome was a visiting team dictating play for sizeable spells and afforded the compliment of hearing the Rams booed at the final whistle by some of their faithful.

Warne even made a substitution at half-time, with Tyrese Fornah hastily withdrawn before red carded, while their players were kept in the dressing room for so long that Pompey had lined up on the pitch ready to kick-off for several minutes before their opposition finally appeared.

So the unbeaten league run is stretched to 18 matches following a Pride Park draw many would have accepted before kick-off, yet Saturday represented so much more than a point.

Negativity for Derby, but indisputable shoots of optimism for those of Pompey persuasion.