Record Fratton Park low awaits Pompey

John Durnin made his first Blues start in Pompey's Anglo Italian Cup clash with Britstol City at Fratton Park in 1993
John Durnin made his first Blues start in Pompey's Anglo Italian Cup clash with Britstol City at Fratton Park in 1993
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It signified John Durnin’s full debut – and a Pompey love affair which stretched seven seasons.

But the August 31, 1993, visit of Bristol City in the Anglo-Italian Cup represents a more notable landmark in the history of the Blues.

For that evening’s crowd of 2,318 is still classed as the club’s lowest post-war Fratton Park attendance competitively.

That is until next month when the Checkatrade Trophy rolls into town.

The overwhelming odds are the attendance against Reading under-23s will be considerably less as supporters vote with their feet against the much-maligned competition.

Pompey’s five smallest crowds on home turf consist of cup competitions, with no league entry in sight.

Inevitably, the long-derided Anglo-Italian occupies three of the slots, including that Bristol City fixture.

However, the Checkatrade Trophy and its revamped format appears to be heading straight to number one.

The Blues could well create history on October 4 – sadly for entirely the wrong reasons.

Still, it was more than 23 years ago when the record was set amid the backdrop of the group stages of the Anglo-Italian Cup.

Durnin was granted a first Blues start in place of the suspended Lee Chapman for the visit of the Robins, while summer recruit Jon Gittens was handed a debut.

Boss Jim Smith made six changes to the side hammered 5-1 at Crystal Palace the previous match, with only Brian Horne, Andy Awford, Paul Walsh and Alan McLoughlin retaining their places.

The result was a 3-1 triumph – Chris Burns, Ray Daniel and substitute Darryl Powell the scorers after the hosts had fallen behind in the third minute.

Pompey’s second-lowest crowd also arrived in the Anglo-Italian Cup – for the December 1992 visit of Lucchese.

There were 2,363 present as the visitors suffered a 2-1 defeat, courtesy of two goals from Powell.

The hosts had earlier been reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Walsh for retaliation, then found themselves behind to Roberto Paci’s goal – before Powell struck.

In December 1989, the Zenith Data Systems Cup visit of Wimbledon attracted 2,499 supporters.

John Gregory’s Pompey were eliminated from the competition at the first hurdle, Keith Curle’s second-half penalty settling matters after John Beresford had fouled John Scales.

Such was the disappointing quality of proceedings, most of the sparse crowd had left before the final whistle.

It was a Full Members Cup encounter with Crystal Palace which yielded a fourth-lowest crowd of 2,515.

Occurring in September 1986, those present were given full value with a thumping Pompey 4-0 victory as Vince Hilaire, Kevin Dillon, Kevin O’Callaghan and Paul Wood netted.

Finally, the visit of Millwall in September 1992 brought in a crowd of 2,535.

Guy Whittingham scored in a 1-1 Anglo-Italian Cup draw to take Pompey onto the international stage section.

Now all eyes – from afar – will be fixed on Reading under-23s next month.