Charleston, South Carolina, July 28: English club Portsmouth ended nearly two weeks of preseason training with a scoreless draw against the Charleston Battery on Wednesday.
Portsmouth has been preparing for the English League Championship season in the United States since the middle of July, working out most days in high temperatures to get ready for its league opener against Middlesbrough on Aug. 6.
"I think we got here at the wrong time," smiled Portsmouth midfielder Hayden Mullins. "The heat and humidity, we're not used to that."
Cotterill's not so sure. He said the intense work has given his team a fitness foundation when it opens the season against Middlesbrough on Aug. 6. Not that he could tell that at Blackbaud Stadium where Portsmouth failed to generate many good scoring opportunities against the Battery, one of the strongest defensive clubs in the United Soccer League.
"It was a good game for us because we've probably gone up another level in our fitness because they had to push themselves tonight," Cotterill said.
Portsmouth 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 second-tier United Soccer Leagues.
"It's preseason, it's what it's all about," Cotterill said. "We could have come here tonight and won five-nil or lost five-nil and it wouldn't have made any difference the first week of the season."
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.
"I think we could've done a lot better," Portsmouth's Mullins said. "We obviously passed the ball well, but we didn't get the threats going forward and I think that was disappointing for us today."
Cotterill said midfielders Norris and Joel Ward were the most consistent against the Battery. The coach knows his club is still a work in progress, needing a few more players to compete in the ELC. He believes the work put in the past two weeks will serve them well during the year. The conditions were "punishing, but that's good, that's why we came here for that," he said.AP