Portsmouth out to avoid unwanted league goal drought landmark against Cambridge United

Pompey are out to avoid equalling their worst league goal droughts of the 21st century on Saturday.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 6:25 pm

That’s the unwanted landmark Danny Cowley’s men will be hoping to steer clear of, as they aim to return to winning ways against Cambridge United at Fratton Park.

The Blues have failed to hit the back of the net in their past three League One fixtures - although Ellis Harrison bagged a hat-trick in the 5-3 EFL Trophy defeat to AFC Wimbledon last week.

The last time they hit such a barren goal run in the league was in the miserable 2012-13 season, as the club battled against liquidation.

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The period spanned Michael Appleton’s departure for Blackpool with Guy Whittingham taking over as caretaker boss, as the club went 23 games without victory - setting a club record in the process.

The run spanned four League One fixtures - with a fifth blank in the FA Cup against as they fell to a 2-0 loss to Notts County.

Sheffield United, Bury, Brentford and Doncaster all sent the Blues to defeat without being breached in the process.

As a run of consecutive minutes without scoring, that period spanned a total 456 league minutes before Izale McLeod hit the back of the net with a penalty in a 3-2 loss to Leyton Orient at Fratton Park.

Guy Whittingham was in caretaker charge of Pompey in the 2012/13 season as the club fought against liquidation.

The Blues are currently on a run of 358 League One minutes without a goal, since Ryan Tunnicliffe’s early finish earned a 1-0 success against Shrewsbury.

Before 2012, there was also a four-game period without scoring in the 2009-10 campaign, as Pompey fell out of the Premier League under Avram Grant.

A 5-0 thumping by Chelsea preceded a 2-0 loss at Spurs before a couple of 0-0 draws against Blackburn and finally Wigan, as Grant blooded youngsters like Matt Ritchie, Joel Ward and Lenny Sowah.

There’s still a distance for Pompey to hit their worst run of post-war league games without scoring.

That came under Ian St John in the second division in the 1974-75 season when his side drew six league blanks on the spin.

That run started with two 0-0 draws at home to Fulham and Manchester United, with another 0-0 Fratton draw with Blackpool in between losses at Norwich and Bristol City. A miserable record was then set following a 1-0 reverse at Oxford United.

Pompey historian and stalwart, Barry Harris, confirmed those details and how bleak the period was.

He said: ‘Ian St John managed to fall out with everybody.

‘We had Ron Davies up front at the end of his career with Ray Hiron in and out of the team.

‘There wasn’t a lot of goals scored that season - Micky Mellows was the top scorer with eight goals.

‘Norman Piper and Richie Reynolds both scored five goals with Ray Hiron scoring six.

‘Ian fell out with Ray, called him a beanpole and he ended up losing his confidence a bit, because he’d always get you double figures or a dozen goals even when he came in as a youngster from Fareham.

‘Normally if you get rid of a player you replace them with one better.

‘He got rid of Ray, though, and brought in a midget from Motherwell called (Bobby) McGuinness and he scored about three goals in two seasons!

‘Under Guy we were losing games but scoring goals and there were all those problems to deal with, so things were a bit different.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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