THE Rocks had to use three goalkeepers in one game - but still made the long journey back from Whistable with their recent league unbeaten run intact.
Keeper Craig Stoner was sent off after just 15 minutes for tripping an opponent just outside his area, but the ten men worked hard to protect first James Crane and then Dan Beck as they took turns to man the goal.
Whitstable had a goal ruled out for offside three minutes after Stoner saw red but the Rocks regrouped and took the lead on 28 minutes.
It was the Luke Nightingale-Jason Prior partnership once again that brought about the goal, Prior’s clever back-heel finding Nightingale, who fired a low shot into the corner of the net.
The Rocks’ lead lasted just 12 minutes, Whitstable levelling when emergency keeper Crane couldn’t keep out Ian Pulman’s shot.
At that point the Rocks would have been happy with the point, but by the end of the second half theyt were probably reflecting that this could have been another victory.
Ben Johnson hit the post five minutes into the second half and the Rocks bossed long periods.
Pompey teenager Perry Ryan made a solid debut at centre-half alongside Tim Bond after signing on loan for a month.
Beck was in goal for the second 45 minutes and would have been delighted to have just one serious save to make.
The ten men pressed to the end but couldn’t find a winner.
Nightingale and Jon Marzetti were booked late in the game, when Prior was replaced by sub Dean Maynard.
The Rocks can now start to think about welcoming league leaders Leatherhead to Nyewood Lane on Saturday - with their prime concern centring on how they will replace Stoner while he is banned.
ROCKS: Stoner, Marzetti, Crane, Fraser, Ryan, Bond, Wills, Beck, Prior (Maynard), Nightingale, Johnson. Unused subs: Whitehead, Wood, Marshall, Royce.
by Roger Nash