Pompey 2 Nottingham Forest 1

Lee Bowyer.

Charlton's injury concerns ahead of Pompey trip

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A mere 38 days ago, Pompey were bottom of the table fighting for their Championship lives.

Meanwhile, manager Steve Cotterill was coming under increasing fire, some fans demanding his dismissal.

Today the Blues are in the top-10 and the most in-form side in the league.

As for Cotterill, he is a banker for manager of the month having seen his side collect 19 points from a possible 21 over that period.

No wonder Fratton Park attracted its best attendance of the season on Saturday.

Matters may still be uncertain off the pitch, with returning owners Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir still to reveal their hands.

But on it, the transformation has been nothing short of breathtaking, as Pompey continue to look every inch promotion chasers.

Against Forest they even managed to boast a full complement of seven substitutes for the first time this season.

It’s hard not to be swept away by the current euphoria flooding through Fratton Park at present.

Nor should anyone try to resist, such pleasures for Pompey fans have been few and far between during the dark, dark days over the past 18 months.

Savour the ride, every single supporter deserves it.

And if anyone possessed any doubts of the credentials of Cotterill’s men for a play-off place at the minimum, they should have been dispelled on Saturday.

Forest arrived at Fratton Park still wearing their tag as one of the pre-season promotion favourites and a team with just two defeats all season.

They slunk away from the south coast clutching a third as the Blues leapfrogged them into 10th spot.

Billy Davies’ side represented the toughest opposition Cotterill’s team have faced during their current remarkable run and the ideal barometer to gauge their talents.

Sure enough, it was the hosts who ran out 2-1 winners as they demonstrated once again they can match most in this league.

Getting carried away? Possibly.

But no question about it, Pompey currently have one of the strongest first XI’s in the Championship.

What’s more, the current run of results are ensuring that is not merely an opinion – it is a cold, hard fact.

Just a shame then that Chainrai and Kushnir were not present to witness this latest landmark in Cotterill’s eye-catching Fratton Park tenure.

Away on business in India, instead they were represented by Deepak Chainrai, a fellow board member and stake holder.

Let’s just hope the new regime doesn’t stifle the momentum by refusing to sanction a recruitment drive over the next few months.

Just as crucial, none of the existing squad should be allowed to be sold off during the January transfer window.

If such basic rules can be adhered by the Fratton Park hierarchy, there are going to be many more days like Saturday for Pompey fans to bask in this season.

We all wait with baited breath on that one, not least Cotterill, who himself is still to discover the strength of his hand in the recruitment market.

In the meantime, it was business as usual as the Blues triumphed over Forest to signal their best run of results for more than eight years.

On that occasion, Harry Redknapp’s men started the 2002-03 season with nine league matches without defeat.

No-one needs reminding how that division one campaign ended, nor the riches which waited at the end of it.

This time around, they are unbeaten in seven league matches, having won a staggering six of them.

Heading into the Forest fixture, Cotterill even had the luxury of affording to put fit-again Ricardo Rocha on the bench.

Normally an automatic choice, such has been the impressive form of Ibrahima Sonko of late the Portuguese defender had been relegated to a place among the substitutes.

Fitting then that the man on loan from Stoke would weigh in with the game’s opening goal.

On 18 minutes, Liam Lawrence swung in a corner from the left and Sonko rose highest to power a header past Lee Camp.

The aftermath saw the goalscorer lie motionless on the floor after a Forest defender had landed on his already strapped ankle.

Thankfully there was no more damage, however, and he finally staggered to his feet to be able to celebrate with team-mates and fans alike. Within nine minutes, however, Davies’ men had drawn level.

Lewis McGugan whipped in a low cross from the right towards the far post which was met with a stunning diving header from Paul Anderson.

It was a moment of genuine quality, signalling the start of a period of sustained pressure from the visitors, who began to display their quality and energy.

After the break, Pompey came out strongly, giving a stern examination to a defence marshalled superbly by the impressive Kelvin Wilson.

And when Cotterill’s men did regain the lead on 62 minutes, it was deservedly so. Carl Dickinson – a long-time Forest fan – crossed from the left and the ball found its way to Lawrence.

The midfielder can’t stop scoring at the moment and he made no mistake as he lashed the ball home to make it 2-1.

After naming a bench which included four strikers, it was no surprise Davies chose to unleash three of them as he attempted to find a way back.

Cue more heavy pressure on the Pompey rearguard, led superbly by Michael Brown.

The former skipper was a tireless worker in front of the defence, closing down, blocking and tackling with unstinting commitment.

Behind him, Sonko and Aaron Mokoena stood firm, mopping up balls in the air aimed at the dangerous Dele Adebola.

Even keeper Camp himself staged two forays into the opposing area in a desperate attempt to find a breakthrough.

Yet Cotterill’s men clung on to make it a sixth win out of seven matches and, arguably, their most eye-catching to date.

So much for being relegation favourites 38 days ago.

There is only one way this team is heading and that is up, up, up.