Portsmouth manager Guy Whittingham was full of praise for his defenders as they earned a first clean sheet since mid-December in the goalless draw at Hartlepool.

The point ended a run of nine successive defeats and meant the current crop of players stopped short of setting a new club record. It did, however, mean they made club history by going 20 games without a win.

They also kept Pools at arm's length as they are they only team below Pompey in the table and would have overtaken them with victory. Pompey's back four and tight midfield proved impregnable and Whittingham said: "We've been decent without luck of results or concentration lets us down.

"Defending for 90 minutes - that's the best we have been. Apart from the Preston game it's the best defensively it's been. We wondered about subs as the game went on but we were resolute.

"Defensively it was a step forward but you can't just say you have done it on one evening. We started it at Bournemouth when concentration cost us a goal, we have stayed solid and Simon [Eastwood] didn't have too many shots to stop.

"It's about making sure you are competitive and we have to remain that way. It's something to build on and it's a tremendous effort to go to a good footballing side who built the game up with something to go for."

Pools boss John Hughes, whose side are four games unbeaten but still bottom, said: "It's frustrating. Expectations were on and winning would have put us off the bottom. We were missing that wee bit of magic to open up the defence, that killer pass.

"On the other side it's unbeaten in four and a clean sheet. But I'm disappointed as this was there for us to move off the bottom - a good chance at home. We tried to stretch it, changed formation, used substitutes, and it didn't happen. We had half-chances, but couldn't get through.''

Hughes had billed the game as a "cup final" for his side.

He added: "They are no mugs, they have a lot of experience. All credit to them in terms of the situation they are in. They were spirited but it was up to us to produce something to unlock the door and make them open up. Sometimes you get frustrated but you take it on the chin and go again.''