Luton, Millwall and Bradford - history shows Portsmouth can still mount promotion challenge despite lacklustre start

Promotion is a scenario sections of Pompey fans can't even comprehend at the minute.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 1:43 pm
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett Picture: Daniel Chesterton

Following the lacklustre start to the 2019-20 campaign, some supporters have already reluctantly accepted the Blues will be shackled to League One for another year.

Kenny Jackett’s troops sit 16th in the table with 13 points from 10 games.

That’s meant they already trail unbeaten leaders Ipswich by 14 points, while second-placed Wycombe are 10 points ahead. 

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And if history is anything to go by, at least one team languishing in the lower reaches will finish in the top six. 

Last season, Luton lifted the title after collecting 94 points. 

Yet after 10 matches, the Hatters were in a worse position than the Blues. Including a 1-0 opening-day defeat at Fratton Park, they yielded only 10 points.

After a 2-1 loss against Doncaster, however, Luton would incredibly lose just one of their subsequent 34 games and rocketed themselves to the summit of the table. 

In contrast, Walsall had amassed 18 points and were sitting outside the play-offs only on goal difference.

But the Saddlers were unable to keep up their early-season form and jettisoned down the standings, culminating in relegation.

In 2016-17, it was Millwall who got off to a shaky start – but still managed to go up.

The Lions had an identical record to Pompey at the same stage – winning three, drawing four and losing three.

What's more, Millwall had a minus-three goal difference.

However, they turned around their fortunes and would enjoy a Championship return following a play-off final victory over Bradford.

In the same campaign, Bury were in the automatic-promotion spots having collected 20 points from 10 games.

The Shakers faltered afterwards, though, and preserved their League One status by just a point on the final day.

Meanwhile, in 2015-16, Bradford endured a disappointing start to the campaign.

The Bantams chalked up 10 points from as many matches.

But after a 2-0 defeat to Colchester, the Valley Parade outfit would go on a nine-match unbeaten streak, picking up 21 points from a possible 27. 

Bradford finished fifth and were defeated by Millwall in the play-off semi-final. 

Even in 2017-18, Plymouth went agonisingly close to making the top six after a disastrous start. 

The Fratton faithful weren’t exactly sorry to see Pilgrims struggling after both sides clinched promotion from League Two the previous campaign. 

The intense rivalry had been forged having met six times in two years – fuelled by the off-the-pitch animosity between Paul Cook and counterpart Derek Adams.

The Pilgrims reaped just five points by the time they’d played 10 matches.

However, it was their form after the turn of the year that saw them finish on 68 points and just finish behind Charlton for a play-off berth.

So the stats are there for all to see.

With more than three-quarters of the campaign to go, there is ample time for Pompey to regroup and climb up the standings – especially as they have at least a game in hand on every team bar Burton. 

Firstly, though, Jackett’s men need to click into gear and up their attacking threat, having lacked guile and ingenuity for the most part.