When Oxford attempted to deface an iconic Pompey occasion

Fratton Park declared it was '˜Ours', yet the points were very much theirs.

Friday, 23rd March 2018, 9:00 am
The Ours mosaic created by Pompey fans in the Fratton End for the 2013-14 season opener against Oxford United

Not that Oxford United managed to truly upstage the grand occasion of the 2013-14 curtain-raiser.

Nonetheless, any romanticism pinned to an opening-day League Two victory for fan-owned Pompey cruelly evaporated in the glorious south-coast sunshine.

And it was to be Chris Wilder’s side collecting a deserved 4-1 victory against opposition reduced to 10 men as the party fell flat.

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Off the pitch, the fixture generated the iconic image of the Fratton End holding up cards to spell ‘Ours’ before kick-off.

Inspired by a group of supporters who braved the elements to lay them on to seats the previous night, it commemorated a new era.

Fan ownership had saved Pompey from liquidation and now permanent boss Guy Whittingham had assembled a new-look squad for the campaign.

Realistically, what unfolded in front of an 18,181 crowd on that August 2013 afternoon could not possibly remove the achievement of supporters preserving their club.

Yet it undoubtedly applied a dampener to proceedings.

The occasion was handed a perfect start on 25 minutes when Patrick Agyemang powered home Andy Barcham’s left-wing cross.

However, two goals in four minutes, contributed by the U’s’ Deane Smalley and Alfie Potter, sent the Blues in at the interval 2-1 down.

Matters worsened on 58 minutes when referee Gavin Ward brandished a straight red card at skipper Johnny Ertl following an aerial challenge.

The midfielder was adjudged to have used an elbow in the face of future Pompey favourite Danny Rose.

There was to be no way back for Whittingham’s men, with Potter and Smalley adding to their earlier goals and earning a 4-1 triumph.

‘I’ve seen it on video, it’s Johnny jumping up with an arm up to protect him, he’s not swinging it,’ said Whittingham afterwards.

‘The referee’s made a decision because his arm’s up there that it’s a sending off so that’s it.’

Pompey chairman Iain McInnes remained upbeat in his appraisal at the time.

He said: ‘We had a full house, we had one of our old managers in Jim Smith back, we had one of our old adversaries in Oxford to play against, hopes were high.

‘The truth of the matter is this fixture may not have happened at all. The fact it did is an achievement in itself.

‘Okay, it didn’t work out quite the way it was supposed to, but I think we can take this one on the chin.’

On Sunday the pair again meet at Fratton – only this time Pompey will seek to do the spoiling.

It is Karl Robinson’s first game as Oxford boss.