Keeper eyes historic night as past and present collide

Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown
Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown
Pompey suffered defeat to Charlton. Picture: Joe Pepler

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For four years they were part of the Pompey goalkeeper’s union.

A united front and brothers-in-arms who faced relegation, administration, liquidation and two FA Cup finals together.

But now, away from the pitch, Jamie Ashdown no longer communicates with David James.

When the former England keeper walked out to join Bristol City in the summer, it brought an end to an association spanning 189 club games.

Since then there have been no phone calls, no texts, no e-mails. Nothing.

For Ashdown, their parting of the ways has finally provided him with the opportunity to become Pompey’s undisputed number one.

Having made just 14 appearances during their four-year association, it has been a patient wait. And tonight the 30-year-old stands on the brink of breaking Peter Mellor’s post-war club record for league clean sheets.

In addition, if he is unbeaten for the first 36 minutes at Ashton Gate, he will have broken the club record for the most minutes without conceding.

A further 23 minutes and he will smash Pompey’s best for all competitions.

Fittingly, among the opposition will be his former Pompey team-mate.

James has been an ever-present for the Robins since his switch, playing 36 times so far and continuing his high-level of performance.

Now they will go head-to-head at Ashton Gate.

And Ashdown is eyeing the prized crown of becoming the first keeper to rack up seven successive league clean sheets in Pompey history.

He said: ‘Jamo is a quality keeper and is still pushing on, clocking up the miles and it’s fantastic for him.

‘It will be a good game. They are playing really well at the moment – like ourselves – and getting results, so it will be nice to see him.

‘I won’t be speaking to him before the game, though. No, I’ll leave him to it.

‘I’m not still in touch with him, I haven’t spoken to him since he left.

‘We just went our separate ways, that’s all it was. Nothing else.

‘I always wanted to be here, I never wanted to leave but in the summer I thought I was going to have to.

‘I waited around and held off other deals. I wanted to stay here so I waited for this one.

‘Now I have the chance of breaking a record and, hopefully, we can continue that good work.’

Ashdown has revelled in regular football since James’ departure.

The former Reading man has been one of the stars of the season as Steve Cotterill’s side have pulled clear of relegation. It has been the opportunity to prove a few points after so many years on the sidelines.

Now Pompey venture to Bristol City looking to build on their remarkable charge towards the play-offs.

They currently stand just seven points off Leeds in sixth spot.

But Ashdown’s keen to dampen talk of a swift return to the Premier League.

He added: ‘The expectations haven’t changed yet. We still want to be completely safe and when the time comes and we keep winning we will hopefully get there.

‘At the moment, we just want to keep winning and keep producing good results.

‘With the season we’ve had, quietly, we just want to keep winning.

‘We’re not really talking about moving into the play-offs and stuff like that just yet. We’re just seeing how it goes.

‘Obviously, we want to be there, we want to be promoted but it has been such a hard season. Long-term goals are something we cannot really look to.

‘All we want to do now is stay up and consolidate. That’s our main objective from the start of the season.’