Fans returned to Fratton Park in earnest on Saturday, after 17 Covid-19 impacted months against Crewe Alexandra.
It proved a memorable occasion as 11,470 supporters took in the 2-0 success in the sunshine in PO4.
But the attendance was the lowest home league gate, aside from when 2,000 fans watched games against Peterborough and Fleetwood last December, since 9,815 watched a 1-1 draw with MK Dons in February 2013.
Supporters reported severe difficulties being able to purchase tickets in the build-up to the game, while season-ticket holders needed to buy seats separately for the first three games of the campaign.
Fans stated Covid fears as another factor for staying away as Cowley’s men moved second in the table.
Many supporters aired their frustration at the ticketing issues, but the Pompey head coach moved to provide some context at the logistical issues faced by the club in recent weeks.
He said: ‘I know there might have been some frustration from supporters.
‘What I think people have to maybe consider is we’re coming out of a pandemic for the first time in our lives.
‘We were only told by the EFL at the back end of July we’d be back to full capacity.
‘Before that we thought it would be a more gradual way in.
‘As a consequence, there are certain things and processes which have taken more time.
‘It’s been a real challenge for the people behind the scenes.
‘For me, this victory was a victory for two groups. It’s always for the supporters but this was also for the staff behind the scenes who have fought so hard and selflessly to try to get this game on and as many supporters in the stadium as possible.
‘I’ve no doubt it wasn’t perfect.
‘I would just ask the people to stay with us because we’re working really hard to get the processes in place.
‘We want the experience to be brilliant for supporters.
‘Just to put it in context, we had (CEO) Andy Cullen and his wife in yesterday cleaning kiosks. It was literally all hands on deck.
‘So that victory was for the supporters, but also the people behind the scenes who don’t always get the credit but their hard work deserves.’
There was no problem creating an atmosphere from those supporters present as Cowley saw his team operate in front of decent numbers at home for the first time.
Both goals came with Pompey attacking the Fratton End after the break - something the head coach had remarked about in the build-up to the game.
Cowley had no doubt about the impact of fans being present after their virtual absence last term.
He added: ‘To be honest, 11,000 felt like 30,000
‘It felt easier kicking into the Fratton End. Compared to last season it just felt much easier being at home. It was a nice feeling.
‘Football is the people’s game - and the people were back.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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