Ups and downs are just part of being a Portsmouth fan

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Right now it’s hard to know what to say about the season and the latest ill-fated venture into the play-offs, though as a columnist, that’s not the best thing for me to admit.

Pompey, and I’m sure we’re not alone in this, seem to have a knack of putting fans through all extremes of emotion whatever the final outcome is to be.

Tales of triumph come only after brushes with disaster; sad endings happen only after hope has sprung eternal halfway along the route.

So it was with 2018-19.

A flying first half of the campaign that exceeded all expectations, a horrendous dip in form that no-one saw coming, an equally unexpected revival and seven straight wins that had us dreaming again, then an insipid end that deflated us again.

Even Thursday’s second leg brought highs before lows. Early on, I thought the atmosphere and Pompey’s efforts were superb - just what was needed to make Sunderland cave in. But the longer it went in the more tense fans and players became. The fact our last serious effort at goal came around the 70th minute, from James Vaughan, says a lot.

For all Kenny Jackett’s stated reasons for not starting Jamal Lowe nor Roan Curtis, then not bringing on Curtis for at least the last 10, I will never believe those were good decisions. 

To me, this feels like a repeat of 1985-86, a season when Alan Ball’s team surged clear of the pack before Christmas, faltered and just missed out. That was Bally’s second stab at promotion, just like this was Jackett’s, and the World Cup winner was given a third go – just as Jackett should, and surely will, be.

In 86-87 Pompey got the job done with few hiccups. Is it too much to ask that the present-day Blues can follow suit?