Portsmouth seeking to banish artificial pitch hoodoo by taking down Harrogate Town

Pompey head to Harrogate Town striving to create club history.

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 4:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th November 2019, 5:13 pm

For never before have the Blues won a competitive match on an artificial playing surface – despite eight previous attempts.

Harrogate host Kenny Jackett’s side on their 3G pitch in the FA Cup on Monday night (7.45pm).

The National League side are enjoying a promising season, positioned seventh in the table and possessing the joint-third best home record.

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And they will be hoping to use their pitch advantage to overhaul a club yet to taste victory on such a surface.

Between 1981-1994, four Football League clubs employed artificial pitches at some stage – QPR, Oldham, Luton and Preston.

The Blues travelled to all but Preston, fulfilling eight fixtures, yet never winning.

In fact, only twice have they avoided defeat – with draws at Oldham in November 1986 and December 1989.

Ian Baird, seen here against Manchester United, netted his only Pompey goal on a plastic pitch - at QPR in October 1987

Pompey’s maiden plastic pitch experience was in a League Cup trip to QPR in October 1981, tumbling to a 5-0 defeat.

Peter Ellis’ own goal sent Terry Venables’ side on their way in the first-leg encounter, with further finishes from Gary Micklewhite (two) and John Gregory (two).

The Blues suffered three defeats on plastic pitches during the 1987-88 season which represented their Division One return.

Alan Ball’s side lost 2-1 at QPR in October 1987, with Ian Baird netting his sole goal for Pompey during an unsuccessful stint.

Then, in March 1988, they were defeated twice in a month at Luton’s Kenilworth Road.

Firstly, there was a 3-1 loss in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, with Mick Quinn grabbing the visitors’ goal before he was dismissed for two bookable offences.

Then, 17 days later, Ray Harford’s men won 4-1, with Kevin Dillon having briefly levelled at the start of the second half.

There was a 5-3 defeat at Oldham in March 1989, although the scoreline appears closer than it was after the hosts raced into a 5-0 lead.

Similarly, there was also a Division Two loss at Oldham in September 1990, this time by 3-1, in the Latics’ final season of employing the surface.

That was also the last time Pompey played on an artificial pitch – until Monday night at Harrogate Town.