Early-risers Pompey handed untimely start

Lomana Lualua in pre-season action against Torquay in 2006 Picture: Jonathan Brady
Lomana Lualua in pre-season action against Torquay in 2006 Picture: Jonathan Brady
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Pompey’s players will be handed an instant opportunity to impress new boss Kenny Jackett.

For Salisbury represents the earliest pre-season friendly in modern Blues history.

On Saturday, Pompey make the trip to the Raymond McEnhill Stadium for the kick off to their summer friendly programme.

The fixture arrives only 48 hours following the players’ return to training ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.

Yet the July 1 date stands alone when compared to the timing of previous pre-season encounters.

According to records since 1970, it represents the earliest summer match for a Blues team.

Last season, Paul Cook’s side opened with a game at Sligo Rovers on July 6 during a week-long stay in Ireland.

That finished in a 3-3 draw as Conor Chaplin netted twice and Gary Roberts scored the other in front of a crowd of 1,127.

Generally, however, it is not until the second week in July when the pre-season friendlies take place for Pompey.

In the case of Salisbury, it arrives at 3pm on the very first day of July.

In recent times, the Hawks have provided the opening match in six out of the past eight summers – all staged in the second week.

These Westleigh Park fixtures have ranged from July 9 to 21, with this year’s encounter booked for Saturday, July 8.

In the summer of 2012, the first match was a 4-0 defeat at Gibraltar on July 20, during Michael Appleton’s side’s tour to Spain.

However, the previous weekend a scheduled fixture at the Hawks was rained off to delay the start of the friendlies.

On July 19, 2006, Pompey kicked off their pre-season with a trip to Torquay under Harry Redknapp.

Svetoslav Todorov, Lomana Lualua and Benjani were the scorers in a 3-0 victory at Plainmoor.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t until July 21, 2001, when Graham Rix’s squad got their summer under way ahead of the 2001-02 campaign.

Back in 1970, the opening friendly was against West Ham on August 1, culminating in a 2-0 home defeat.

Yet in 1973, the first encounter was at Bournemouth on August 11, ending in a goalless draw.

Meanwhile, preparations for the 1996-97 season commenced with a friendly at Bath on July 23, 1996.

Lee Bradbury and Fitzroy Simpson scored in a 2-0 success.