The moments Portsmouth fans don’t want to look back on with regret
Aspiring sports journalist James Powers reflects on the key moments of Pompey’s season and ahead of the play-off showdown with Sunderland.
The end to the regular season could understandably leave Pompey fans grimacing and harping back to a time not too long ago when their side found themselves six points clear at the top of League One.
However, it must be remembered the vast majority of Blues followers would have taken a fourth-placed finish, especially if they’d been told the top two would break the 90-point mark.
Pompey started the season with blistering form, avoiding defeat until October, leading to them being top at Christmas.
However, a new year’s slump ensued with eight winless league games following to make it an uphill battle to secure automatic promotion.
It’s fair to say that Pompey’s end to 2018 was well above par and it would’ve taken a tremendous effort to maintain.
With all factors considered, Pompey’s league season has been satisfactory. It was what was wanted and expected - but it could’ve been so much more.
There are several points in the campaign that seemed to be crippling blows to the automatic promotion hunt.
The obvious moments are Omar Bogle’s penalty miss against Barnsley and the 3-3 Roots Hall blunder against Southend.
However, key points were dropped at the beginning of the term during the unbeaten
run where games should have been comfortably won.
Two key examples would be home draws with Shrewsbury, where Pompey were bailed out by a late Brett Pitman penalty, and Wycombe, where Pitman thought he had won it before a
defensive error lead to a Wycombe penalty and a subsequent equaliser.
These draws would have been costly moments not only in losing points but also in disrupting momentum.
And on these occasions the team as a whole were below par. It wasn’t just one player’s mistake.
Of course, Pompey have competed in more than just the league.
The obvious Wembley joy and successful FA Cup run is often overlooked when fans review this season. Yet cup competitions have been a huge factor.
Kenny Jackett seemed to have found the perfect balance with squad rotation in the Checkatrade Trophy, giving promising youngsters such as Haji Mnoga, Matt Casey and Dan Smith the opportunity to strut their stuff on the Fratton stage in the early stages and letting senior players take over when getting a whiff of silverware.
Pompey’s FA Cup run also was a success and a rollercoaster ride (Andre Green’s winner at Norwich could be viewed as the peak of the season as a whole) while also accumulating well over £500,000 from their cup exploits.
Overall, Jackett has achieved everything a third-tier team would want from a manager.
He has successfully finished where he was expected to in the league, staged an upset in a cup competition and won silverware - a fine season that could have an even more successful ending.