Arsenal twice and West Brom - now Portsmouth history blighted by another horror story

Arsenal, West Brom and now Northampton.

By Neil Allen
Monday, 8th March 2021, 7:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 1:59 pm

In the last 34 years, Pompey have suffered the ignominy of trailing 4-0 at half-time on four occasions.

During that same period, the Blues themselves have twice inflicted the crushing scoreline during the opening 45 minutes.

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The outcome has left Kenny Jackett fighting for his future, certainly in the eyes of the supporters, and Pompey facing a battle to remain in play-off contention.

Even during dark days of three relegations in four seasons, a 4-0 half-time deficit was never caused by the many opposition who tore apart the Blues.

Incidentally, the last time it occurred was December 2005 – at Arsenal in the Premier League.

Indeed, the Gunners have managed it twice over the Blues in the last 34 years.

Rasmus Nicolaisen and his Pompey team-mates had a torrid time in the opening 45 minute against Northampton. Picture: Dennis Goodwin/ProSportsImages

In August 1987, Alan Ball’s men travelled to Highbury for their second away fixture back in the top flight.

By the interval, Alan Smith (two), Tony Adams and David Rocastle had netted for George Graham’s men.

The second half would see Smith completing his hat-trick and Paul Davis also scoring in a 6-0 success for the hosts.

Not quite the debut that Malcolm Shotton, a recruit from Oxford, had been anticipating.

In February 2002, the unwanted statistic arrived once more, this time in a 5-0 destruction at West Brom

Jason Roberts, Larus Sigurdsson, Scott Dobie and Igor Balis gave Gary Megson’s promotion-hunting side a 4-0 lead at the interval.

Then, in the second half, Roberts, a future Pompey loanee, bagged another to seal the rout.

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Graham Rix’s team that day included Robert Prosinecki, Peter Crouch and Nigel Quashie, while the result left them in 17th place.

Next was December 2005, in the Premier League with a trip to Arsenal – with Redknapp electing to rotate his side.

Thierry Henry (two), Dennis Bergkamp and Jose Antonio Reyes handed them a 4-0 advantage by half-time, yet the Gunners failed to add to their tally afterwards.

The Blues side consisted of Andy O’Brien, Gregory Vignal, Aliou Cisse, Zvonimir Vukic and Jhon Viafara, reflecting why many supporters were angry at the team selection.

On the flip side, there have been occasions when Pompey themselves have led 4-0 at the break.

In November 1996, Terry Fenwick’s team knocked four past West Brom at Fratton Park, through Lee Bradbury, Fitzroy Simpson, John Durnin and Andy Turner.

However, there were to be no more scorers for the Division One club after the break.

And during the 2002-03 title success, they triumphed at Millwall in March 2003, albeit with no away fans present as, officially, they were banned.

Yakubu (2), Tim Sherwood and Svetoslav Todorov rattled up a 4-0 lead, but it was left to man-of-the-match Paul Merson to seal the 5-0 result with a penalty.

Such was his marvellous display, those 9,697 home fans delivered a standing ovation as he made his way off the pitch.

Not that Pompey fans were applauding two-goal Ryan Watson from their living rooms on Saturday.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

On Saturday, March 13 Pompey will finally get their day at Wembley.

To celebrate the Blues’ place in the 2020 EFL Trophy Final, The News has launched an offer that gets you 25% off all our Sports subscriptions.

You can choose your perfect Sports subscription here and use the discount code ROADTOWEMBLEY25 to get the latest news from Fratton Park for less. Offer runs until midnight on March 15.