Unbeaten Pompey eying equalling 15-year high

Svetoslav Todorov. Picture: Steve Reid
Svetoslav Todorov. Picture: Steve Reid
Jack Whatmough. Picture: Neil Marshall

Pompey defender stakes claim as pair battle for starting spot

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Pompey will equal their best league start of the last 15 years if they avoid defeat at Bristol Rovers.

Not since the First Division promotion season of 2002-03 have the Blues enjoyed such an encouraging start to the campaign.

Under Harry Redknapp, the club didn’t lose any of their opening nine league matches following a large-scale overhaul of their playing squad.

Now Paul Cook’s side have the opportunity to match that impressive return when they travel to the Pirates on Saturday.

It would be another notable landmark in a season which has also seen Pompey win their opening match for the first time since 2006.

They currently sit in second spot, one point off leaders Leyton Orient, as they maintain a bright beginning under their new manager.

Back in August 2002, the Blues embarked on a run which would see them win eight and draw one of their opening nine league games.

Match number nine was a 4-1 home mid-week win over 10-man Wimbledon in September 2002.

Redknapp’s side were already 3-1 up through Vincent Pericard, Svetoslav Todorov and a Mark Williams own goal by the time the visitors had Williams sent off on 52 minutes.

Matt Taylor later increased the scoreline to the delight of a Fratton crowd of 18,837.

However, they finally tasted defeat the following fixture at Norwich through a late Iwan Roberts goal.

The Welsh international struck in the 81st minute to also mark a first loss in all competitions for the Blues.

Pompey, of course, would go on to take the First Division title, six points ahead of nearest rivals Leicester City.

Redknapp also led the club to an impressive start to the 2006-07 campaign, having achieved the Great Escape the previous season.

New recruit Kanu scored twice and Todorov the other in a 3-0 opening-day triumph over nine-man Blackburn at Fratton Park.

It would begin a run which would total five wins and a draw from their first six fixtures, although that included a 2-1 Carling Cup with at Mansfield.

That period of five Premier League fixtures undefeated was ended in a Monday night fixture against Bolton.

Kevin Nolan grabbed the only goal of the game for a Sam Allardyce team which consisted of future Blues signing Tal Ben Haim.

Redknapp’s men would go on to finish ninth as they narrowly failed to win a Uefa Cup spot.

Under Alan Ball in the 1980s, the Blues enjoyed impressive unbeaten starts to three campaigns as they consistently challenged for promotion.

In 1984-85, Pompey didn’t lose any of their first 10 league matches, while the following season were unbeaten after eight.

The 1986-87 campaign which saw them finally reach the top flight began with nine games undefeated on their way to taking second spot.