CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – English soccer club Portsmouth ended nearly two weeks of preseason training with a scoreless draw against the Charleston Battery on Wednesday night.
Portsmouth had prepped for the English League Championship season here since the middle of July, working out most days in 100-degree heat to get ready for its league opener with Middlesbrough on Aug. 6. Pompey had hoped to leave with a victory, but didn't generate many scoring chances in the match's final 30 minutes against what has been one of the best defensive teams in the USL.
Portsmouth's best opportunities down the stretch came off the foot of striker Luke Varney, the last of which came in the 87th minute when he quick-shot a ball into the chest of goalie Keith Wiggins.
Charleston looked as if it might steal the match when Jon Gruenewald took a nifty cross-field pass from Seedy Bah, came clear and shot. But goalie Jamie Ashdown stretched out and just kicked the ball away at the last moment.
Portsmouth has spent nearly two weeks training at Blackbaud Stadium, working out in the searing heat as it prepares for the upcoming ELC season. Pompey is set to open its second season since it was relegated from the Premier League.
Several fans in Portsmouth blue, including dressed up super fan John Anthony Westwood, cheered the players and sang fight songs before the game. Wentworth, who has officially changed his name to John Anthony Portsmouth Football Club Westwood, wore oversized clown shoes, a large top hat and played a bugle and rang a cowbell throughout the match.
One of Portsmouth's owners, Roman Dubov, and club chief executive David Lampitt were both on hand to watch.
Charleston, last year's USL-2 champions, is in the midst of its season. The USL's first and second divisions merged this year into USL Pro.
Portsmouth and some members of the Battery played a closed-door scrimmage last week that ended in a 2-2 draw. The first-half in this one was just as tight, a fast-moving period with several scoring chances.
Portsmouth midfielder David Norris had a header directly into keeper Andrew Dykstra in the 10th minute and missed a quick turnaround right of the goal in the 34th minute.
Charleston's best first-half opportunities came when Nicki Paterson played a high ball over Pompey's defense in the 18th minute to Dane Kelly, who got tied up by a defender and did not a get a shot off. A short time later, Charleston forward Levi Coleman missed a header on a cross from Kelly.