Oxford 0 Pompey 0
Pompey picked up their first point of 2014 with a hard-fought goalless draw at Oxford.
Neither goalkeeper had much to do on a quiet afternoon, although both sides could reflect on missing a decent chance in the second half.
Richie Barker made five changes from the side beaten at Southend on New Year’s Day.
Ryan Taylor, Nicky Shorey and Daniel Alfei were all handed debuts, while there were also starts for Patrick Agyemang and skipper Simon Ferry.
Pompey started brightly and tested the handling of Oxford keeper Ryan Clarke with a couple of early shots.
But there was not too much to excite the crowd in a cagey opening that was short on quality if not endeavour.
When the hosts were able to get the ball into the box they found it repelled by a well-marshalled Blues back-line.
Trevor Carson was receiving fine protection, although he was finally called into action on 19 minutes to keep out a low drive from former Pompey winger Ryan Williams.
There was a moment of worry when United broke quickly after Jed Wallace had lost possession, but Deane Smalley was flagged offside as he tried to meet Tom Newey’s low cross.
Newey then sent charged forward to connect with Danny Rose’s dangerous corner and sent a header narrowly over.
And Hunt’s curling free-kick just cleared the crossbar on 35 minutes after Sonny Bradley had been penalised for a trip on Smalley.
But the Blues saw out the rest of the half with relative ease as the sides went in all square at the break.
Half Time: Oxford 0 Pompey 0
Pompey enjoyed a spell of pressure early in the second half as the hosts struggled to deal with a series of corners.
Both sides then saw players booked by referee Mark Heywood, with Joe Devera, Wallace and Williams all punished for late challenges.
There was not too much goalmouth action as the match passed the hour mark, although Alfei did try an audacious volley from distance that sailed wide.
But it was Oxford who went close to breaking the deadlock on 66 minutes when Rose turned neatly in the box and flashed an angled shot inches past the post.
Barker then made his first substitution, with Ryan Bird replacing the tiring Agyemang in Pompey’s attack.
And a second soon followed as Romain Padovani came on for Racon in midfield on 77 minutes.
But the Blues breathed a sigh of relief moments later when Williams latched onto a poor header from Devera and fired narrowly over.
Devera then missed a fantastic opportunity to grab a goal for Pompey, somehow failing to connect with the ball after being left unmarked to meet Wallace’s superb free-kick from wide on the left.
Oxford thought the Blues should have been reduced to 10 men following a challenge on skipper Jake Wright by Alfei.
Heywood failed to be swayed by the yellow-shirted bodies that swarmed around him, though, and booked the right-back following discussions with his linesman.
That was arguably the biggest piece of drama on a cold afternoon at the Kassam Stadium, although the travelling horde of Pompey fans seemed pleased with their side’s efforts at the final whistle.
Oxford (4-1-4-1): Clarke; Hunt, Raynes, Wright (c), Newey; Mullins; Rigg, Wroe, Rose, Williams; Smalley (Constable 61)
Booked: Williams, Raynes
Subs not used: Henly, Bevans, Long, Davies, Ruffels, Marsh
Pompey (4-4-2): Carson; Alfei, Devera, Bradley, Painter; Ferry (c), Racon (Padovani 77), Shorey, Wallace; Taylor (Ertl 90+4), Agyemang (Bird 72)
Booked: Devera, Wallace, Racon, Alfei, Bradley
Subs not used: Smith, N’Gala, Whatmough, Connolly
Referee: Mark Heywood
Attendance: 8,443 (2,365 Pompey fans)