Ipswich 0 Pompey 2

David Cotterill celebrates his maiden Pompey goal with fellow scorer David Nugent
David Cotterill celebrates his maiden Pompey goal with fellow scorer David Nugent
Mohamed-Labib Maouche. Picture: Colin Farmery

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Some anniversaries should never be celebrated.

Nonetheless, a year on from entering administration and Pompey remain alive.

What’s more, they are winning football matches again.

These days the Championship may be their playground, yet there is plenty that remains the same down at Fratton Park.

Pompey possess the same owner, remain hampered by financial concerns and continue to have an uncertain future.

For some, 12 months on from that fateful February 26, 2010 landmark, nothing has changed.

Except the Blues just can’t stop toasting victories at present.

For once, yes for once, football is occupying the hearts and minds of beleaguered Pompey supporters.

A 2-0 triumph at Ipswich was the latest trick, thanks to a display which showed the tremendous resilience of this current Blues side.

It could be argued such results are merely papering over the cracks.

Maybe. Especially as the search for new owners armed with fresh visions rumbles on as frustratingly as ever.

But, at the end of the day, we are all here for the football and Steve Cotterill and his troops are doing the fans proud.

A fourth-successive victory, a fourth-successive clean sheet and suddenly talk is not of relegation but of play-offs.

Whisper it softly, please don’t get too carried away.

After all, while last week transformed Pompey’s fortunes, this week could just as quickly see them deteriorate once again.

The fact remains, however, they will not be relegated this season.

And for that, all fans should be grateful considering the size of the task that has faced Cotterill.

No wonder renditions of ‘we are staying up’ emanated from the visiting section and reverberated around a hushed Portman Road during the second half.

It was purely tongue-in-cheek but never a truer word spoken in jest.

It certainly brought a wry smile to the face of Cotterill when reminded of the chant after the match. Twelve months after the club was ripped apart and almost destroyed, that is the realistic goal this season.

Looking at Cotterill’s side, it remains one built on quicksand, patched up with sticking plasters and with very few long-term foundations in place.

The Blues boss doesn’t need reminding of that and it remains to be seen how many of the six loans at the club stay beyond this term.

Even one of the stars of Saturday, David Nugent, is not tied to the south coast beyond this season with contract talks still not concluded.

In the here and now, though, they continue to push towards the understated delights of mid-table, a position three games ago many feared could elude them.

If ever there was an occasion when the resilience of Portsmouth Football Club was to be demonstrated so comprehensively this was it.

Ipswich boss Paul Jewell joked afterwards how if it had been a boxing match it would have been called off at half-time.

Everybody present would have agreed, even the 931 visiting supporters who were forced to endure a deeply uncomfortable opening 45 minutes.

It would have been difficult to stumble across a more one-sided first half as Ipswich ran riot over a wilting Pompey side.

The Tractor Boys could have been three or four up by the interval. Somehow it remained goalless.

And, as Pompey fans well know, their side don’t tend to produce two identical halves in a match.

Sure enough, it was that man Nugent who would turn the match on its head and inspire victory.

The 25-year-old wasn’t even at Pompey when they entered administration on that fateful day a year ago on Saturday.

Instead he was on a season-long loan at Burnley, the opposition Avram Grant’s side faced – and beat – 24 hours later.

Roll on a year and he has become an integral part of Cotterill’s side.

What’s more, he finally has a Pompey manager who is getting the best out of him, albeit in a lower division.

On Saturday he was up against Ipswich, a club he had netted against six times in seven previous encounters, a club whose ground he had left with a victory on all three previous occasions.

The last was an FA Cup win back in January 2008. Nugent netted the only goal in a 1-0 win that day, putting his side on the path to a Wembley date and ultimately a memorable triumph.

There was a certain amount of inevitability that the striker would once again enjoy his Portman Road outing.

Not that anybody from the visitors’ camp was smiling during a first half which saw them clinging on to a clean sheet for dear life.

Ipswich’s football was scintillating as they tore into their opposition, particularly down the right flank through the impressive Lee Martin.

On the other flank, the highly-regarded Connor Wickham was just as dangerous, while a midfield three of Jimmy Bullard, David Norris and Grant Leadbitter dictated with ease.

Only the heroics of Jamie Ashdown and some ordinary finishing – particularly from Jason Scotland – prevented Jewell’s side from seizing the lead their play so richly deserved.

The ease with which they managed to dominate was truly uncomfortable viewing for Blues fans, yet somehow, somehow, they managed to scramble to half-time with a draw.

In truth, there was little prospect of Ipswich maintaining that tempo for the second 45 minutes. And so it proved.

Once Wickham headed another Martin cross straight at Ashdown 22 seconds after the restart – and Scotland missed another two chances – Pompey wrestled control.

On 55 minutes, David Cotterill’s free-kick picked out Nugent on the far side of the penalty area and he rode a challenge before drilling the ball into the far bottom corner.

In one fell swoop, Ipswich’s bubble had burst and there was only going to be one winner.

Sure enough, on 77 minutes Marton Fulop’s weak goal-kick fell to Nugent, who fed Cotterill and the Welshman produced a smart finish.

There was still time for a sensational last-ditch tackle by Ritchie de Laet on substitute Tamas Priskin to save a goal.

But Pompey comfortably held out to secure a one-time unlikely three points and make this anniversary a happy one.