Atangana opens his Blues account to secure point
There was plenty of Christmas spirit on show as Cheltenham and Pompey shared the points at Whaddon Road.
The hosts forged ahead just before the interval, courtesy of an individual effort from Omari Sterling-James.
But the Blues made sure it would not be another miserable away-day when Nigel Atangana grabbed an impressive second half leveller.
Andy Awford made four changes from the side beaten by Accrington the previous week.
Jed Wallace returned from suspension wide on the right, while there were also starts for Joe Devera and Jack Whatmough in defence and Atangana in midfield.
There was a familiar face in the Cheltenham line-up, with former Pompey star Trevor Carson featuring between the sticks.
Pompey made a bright start and Dan Butler had an early sighter with a shot from distance that rolled comfortably into Carson’s arms.
Skipper Danny Hollands then met Lee Holmes’ free-kick with an acrobatic volley that flew into the side netting.
It was certainly the visitors who looked the more likely to open the scoring, although, in truth, there were not an abundance of chances at either end of the pitch.
Atangana did have a great opportunity on 20 minutes after being teed-up by Wallace, but dragged his shot narrowly past the post.
The Robins started to come into the game as the half progressed and Terry Gornell finished a neat passing move by firing a weak effort straight at Paul Jones.
Gornell had another good chance on 35 minutes when he diverted a clever Matt Richards free-kick inches wide.
Jack Whatmough was not too far away with a long-range drive in between those two Cheltenham attacks.
And Pompey had another chance when Kane Ferdinand gifted Holmes possession, but the winger’s cross was scrambled behind.
Jones had been enjoying a quiet afternoon in the Blues goal, although he had to pick the ball out of the net just before the break.
It was an impressive solo goal from Sterling-James, who danced past a couple of challenges and into the box before slotting the ball home.
Half Time: Cheltenham 1 Pompey 0
Hollands’ long throws have proved dangerous throughout the season and he launched another into the box early into the second half, only for Whatmough’s effort to be deflected wide.
But it was the visitors who should have doubled their advantage on 55 minutes after Devera lost possession.
Sterling-James latched on to the loose ball and bore down on goal, but Jones came to the rescue by making a key save.
And Pompey made the hosts pay for their profligacy when ATANGANA grabbed a stunning equaliser seconds later.
Whatmough teed him up after embarking on a lung-busting run and the Frenchman curled home a fine finish off the underside of the crossbar.
Both sides looked capable of going on to claim all three points, with Ryan Taylor twice denied by some desperate defending in the box.
He then flicked the ball wide from Holmes’ cross after some decent build-up play from Devera, Wallace and Atangana.
The chances dried up as the game reached its conclusion, although Lee Vaughan did see his effort deflected narrowly wide.
Andy Barcham replaced Atangana for the final few moments to add some fresh attacking impetus to the Blues.
But it was Paul Robinson who almost became an unlikely hero, drilling the ball through a host of bodies and just past the post after a clearance fell kindly to his feet.
And the last chance fell to Holmes in stoppage-time, with Carson flinging himself to his right to parry clear the winger’s fierce angled volley and ensure a share of the spoils.
Cheltenham (4-4-1-1): Carson; Vaughan, Taylor (c), Brown, Braham-Barrett; Ferdinand, Hanks, Richards, De Vita (Harrison 72); Sterling-James; Gornell (Howarth 85)
Goals: Sterling-James 42
Booked: Braham-Barrett, Vaughan
Subs not used: Gould, Deaman, Kotwica, Williams, Dale
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Devera, Robinson, Whatmough, Butler; Bean, Hollands (c); Wallace, Atangana (Barcham 84), L.Holmes; Taylor
Goals: Atangana 56
Subs not used: Poke, Fish, Webster, Shorey, Storey, Westcarr
Referee: Fred Graham
Attendance: 3,331 (1,077 Pompey fans)