Michael Doyle's howitzer, Rommy Boco managerial spat and Portsmouth's heaviest league defeat in seven years - welcome to Accrington
It offered the stage for Michael Doyle’s career-favourite goal, the curious Rommy Boco spat and last season’s worst Pompey performance.
Now the Crown Ground will raise the curtain on 2021 – and the Blues’ latest pursuit of Championship football.
Kenny Jackett’s second-placed side head to Lancashire on Saturday striving to maintain their outstanding form.
Momentum was checked following the postponement of two festive fixtures, a consequence of a coronavirus outbreak in the Blues camp.
Their season will now resume at Accrington, whose boss John Coleman continues to perform wonders with his resources.
Around this time last term, Pompey embarked on a run of one defeat in 13 matches in all competitions.
That sole blot arrived at the Crown Grown, with arguably their most abysmal display of the 2019-20 campaign.
Representing their biggest Football League defeat for almost six years, much supporter anger greeted an outcome which left the Blues in 10th.
Jackett had been forced to field a new-look back four, with Christian Burgess suspended, Lee Brown and Brandon Haunstrup injured and Oli Hawkins absent after his partner had given birth to son Jett.
Anton Walkes moved to left-back, Tom Naylor dropped from midfield to partner Sean Raggett, while James Bolton earned a right-back recall.
Loanee Ross McCrorie was handed only his fourth league start in his preferred central midfield role – and never appeared there again for the club.
Despite Ronan Curtis giving the Blues the lead, Ellis Harrison’s bizarre headed own goal levelled matters on the strike of half-time.
Then Dion Charles and two from Colby Bishop capped a rampart second period for the hosts, who ran out 4-1 winners.
There have, of course, also been happier times at Accrington, most notably in March 2016.
Before kick-off, however, there was a bust up between Paul Cook and Coleman over Rommy Boco, who had been named on the hosts’ bench.
The Benin international had departed Fratton Park five weeks earlier, with his contract cancelled in order to allow the move to their League Two rivals.
However, despite an agreement Boco wouldn’t face the Blues that season, he was named on the team sheet among the Stanley substitutes.
It sparked an angry exchange between the managers that evening. To make matters worse, Boco was later introduced in the 67th minute, although by that stage Accrington were on their way to a 3-1 defeat.
Memorably, among Pompey’s scorers was skipper, Michael Doyle.
‘I couldn’t have struck the ball any better and have tried it a lot since only for the shot to end up in row Z!’ he told Played Up Pompey Three.
‘Ben Davies put in a great free-kick from the left, there was a header out and it fell perfectly to me almost 30-yards out. I just anticipated it and thought “Bang. I’m having this” and hit a left-footed volley.
‘I didn’t realise how far out I was, although I clearly needed a big dip in the volley to get it on target.
‘It was just one of those things. When you get sent off having done something stupid on the pitch it’s instinct, you don’t think about it.’
Presently, Accrington are positioned eighth, five points behind Pompey with three games in hand.
They meet on Saturday – which side of coin it falls on remains to be seen.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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