Wycombe 0 Pompey 0

There had been boos, there had been boardroom inquests, there had been calls for his head.

Come the end of a dramatic seven days in the managerial life of Andy Awford, his name was being chanted with gusto.

Matt Tubbs had a golden opportunity to put Pompey in front. Picture: Joe Pepler

Matt Tubbs had a golden opportunity to put Pompey in front. Picture: Joe Pepler

An encouraging Adams Park performance producing an impressive point and perhaps, just perhaps, the U-turn is under way.

Those 1,550 souls daring to make the short trip to watch a team without a victory in eight previous matches were served up an excellent display.

Such were their lifted spirits, they were singing long after the final whistle while filing patiently out of the away end.

Even the substitutes who ventured back outside to warm down were treated to a rendition of the Pompey Chimes and a generous round of applause.

If, as social media chatter would have us believe, the majority of supporters have turned against Awford, there was no evidence of it on Saturday.

Neither was there a hint of having ‘lost the dressing room’, another phrase too easily tossed around when managers are under pressure.

The much-changed team on show conjured up a display dripping with attacking inclination, defensive resilience and pure guts.

In truth, the league leaders should have been finished off during the opening 45 minutes.

Perhaps the Blues caught them off guard with their enterprising play, it certainly took the large away following by surprise.

Then again this has been a different Awford side on their travels of late, as journeys to Luton and Newport County will testify.

The away record remains highly short of victories, yet there has been a new-found heart to the Blues away from Fratton Park – and on Saturday it was in abundance once more.

To think Awford was being criticised by many and his team selection written off before a ball had even been kicked at Adams Park.

Unquestionably the starting line-up consisting of six changes did raise collective eyebrows, similarly the return of wing-backs.

As for Ben Chorley returning, accompanied by the captain’s armband, it attracted some boos when the teams were read out pre-match.

The selection was harsh on Joe Devera, who has done nothing wrong in recent weeks, but didn’t that Awford decision pay off handsomely.

There is clearly still life in this manager yet, regardless of the boardroom deliberations over his future at the start of the week.

The 42-year-old emerged with a vote of confidence but eyes from above remaining fixed on his progress during the forthcoming period of rather more palatable fixtures.

Such was the precarious nature of his standing on that Monday, even some within the club thought the axe was to fall – irrespective of whether they believed a sacking correct.

Yet Awford remains and at the final whistle following Saturday’s goalless draw it was poignant the away following chanted ‘Andy Awford’s Blue and White Army’.

The manager himself approached the supporters, pointing to them before thumping his heart several times to demonstrate the special bond which exists.

Of course, regardless of the creditable draw, Pompey remain in 18th spot, two points above the League Two relegation zone and with no wins in nine.

Defeat at home to Hartlepool next week would be a disaster, once again lurching Awford’s job into the danger zone and sparking a backlash from some.

In the meantime, though, fans can reflect on an excellent team performance at Adams Park and plenty of signals Awford is slowing beginning to turn matters around.

Certainly his team selection deserves credit as he opted to give new recruit Josh Passley an immediate debut in the right wing-back slot.

The 3-5-2 system had long been packed away, but it returned at Wycombe and provided the platform for such an impressive point.

Joining Passley in the side was Dan Butler on the opposite flank, with the full-backs who started against Southend – Adam Webster and Nicky Shorey – not making the match-day 18.

Jack Whatmough and Chorley were recalled to the line-up along with Paul Robinson in the centre of defence, and Devera dropping out.

Danny Hollands was named in midfield in place of Nigel Atangana, while Ryan Taylor came in for Craig Westcarr in attack.

There was also a positional change for Jed Wallace, operating in a free role behind the strikers and thriving in his new-found responsibility.

It ensured the youngster’s drive and energy were not merely restricted to the right flank and he instigated everything good about the Blues.

Awford has long believed the back three system, when previously employed, created a defensive reliability often missing from his team.

On Saturday it also demonstrated its capacity to attack and in the opening 45 minutes the visitors could have grabbed several goals.

The chief culprit in the failure to net was Matt Tubbs, ironically in a match when finally he had been given sustained service.

On 15 minutes there were appeals for a penalty when Aaron Pierre handled a Tubbs pass inside the box and that moment heralded a Blues purple patch.

In the 19th minute, Wallace lofted a ball from the left and Tubbs beat the offside trap for a one-on-one only to take the ball too wide and for Pierre to get a block.

Moments later, Taylor’s clever chested lay-off released his strike partner again, this time down the left channel.

But his low right-foot shot lacked conviction and the exposed Matt Ingram comfortably pushed the ball away.

Tubbs’ next opportunity was an acrobatic kick from Robinson’s header which flicked off Joe Jacobson for a corner.

Robinson, Chorley, Whatmough and Wallace also had chances but failed to convert as Wycombe breathed again.

However, on 43 minutes Jacobson struck the underside of the bar with a ferocious left-footed effort.

After the break the hosts began to get a foothold, although neither side truly threatened again during the entertaining contest.

According to Gareth Ainsworth the draw was a fair result, but it should have been so much more for Pompey.

As for Awford, he is fighting on – and those away fans are right beside him.