How Portsmouth joined an exclusive club following unlikely progression in the EFL Trophy

Pompey broke in rarely charted territory following their unlikely progression in the EFL Trophy.

The Blues became one of only three clubs to advance into the round-of-32, after losing their opening two fixtures, since the competition’s reshaping in 2016-17.

After defeats to AFC Wimbledon and Sutton across their first two fixtures, the hosts knew they needed to force a four-goal swing over the former at Fratton Park, while hoping the latter beat the Dons.

But with the U’s doing just that by a single goal, it appeared the Blues’ hopes had vanished with the club leading Crystal Palace under-21s 2-0 at PO4.

Pompey join Notts County and Newport County to overcome similar adversity to qualify from their respective groups.

The Magpies did so in 2018-19 on goal difference after consecutive defeats against Grimsby Town and Newcastle United under-21s.

Pompey joined an exclusive club last night following their unlikely progression into the knockout stages of the EFL Trophy. Picture: Robin Jones

Sitting rock bottom ahead of their fixture with Doncaster - Kristian Dennis inspired the managerless club to a 4-2 victory with a hat-trick and an assist. This allowed the east midlands side to leapfrog Donny and Grimsby into second place.

The feat was then matched only a season later by the south Wales side, when Mick Flynn’s side were at the centre of three enthralling cup ties.

County opened their campaign with a 5-4 defeat to West Ham under-21s, before a 2-0 loss to Exeter City.

But with chances of advancing slim, Newport were involved in a 12-goal thriller as they put seven past Cheltenham to enhance their goal difference and advance.

Last night’s victory was, arguably, one of Pompey’s best performances of the season.

That has given Cowley plenty of food for thought as his fringe players staked a claim for league minutes with displays which saw their unlikely success achieved.

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