SEASON REVIEW: August
With a mediocre pre-season campaign completed, things still needed to be sorted off the pitch, with Al Fahim's deal to buy the club still pending, and furthermore Peter Storrie had put a consortium together with Ali Al Faraj fronting it. What had we done to deserve this? Two 'Multi Billionaires' fighting to buy our club. Fantastic, right? Only neither can seem to find their piggy banks.
Our season started at Fratton Park against Fulham, with Pompey fielding just 3 players that started our last league game. Mokoena and Piquionne made their debuts for the club but it was the visitors who struck first, with Bobby Zamora getting in the way of Clint Dempsey's shot, only to see it flick off his backside past David James, a bad stroke of luck that was a sign of the season to come. Pompey had chances to get back on level terms throughout the match, with Belhadj missing a good opportunity, and Piquionne seeing his shot blocked. But ultimately Pompey lacked any threat in front of goal, and despite the result not reflecting the game, it was a worrying start to the season.
Pompey's first away game was a trip to newly promoted Birmingham, and after 92 minutes with limited goalmouth action, a rush of blood to David James's head gave the Brummies a chance to take all 3 points from 12 yards. Opinions were spilt as to whether it was a penalty or not, James did have his eyes firmly locked on the ball as it fell from the sky, but the challenge was reckless, and James McFadden coolly finished with the last kick and denied Pompey their first point.
Nobody expected the third time to be a charm as Pompey travelled to the Emirates, and after 20 minutes it looked like mission impossible with Diaby scoring twice for the hosts. But 10 minutes before the break Younes Kaboul scored Pompey's first goal of the season and which gave them a glimmer of hope at half time. Pompey started the second half brightly with Piquionne and Utaka both coming close, before the turning point. Utaka sprung the offside trap and raced clear on goal when he was brought down from behind by William Gallas. As players and fans screamed for a straight red card, Steve Bennett was having none of it and awarded just a yellow card. To rub salt into wide open wounds, it was Gallas who put the game out of reach for Pompey, as the ball flicked up against his face, off the post and into the goal to compound the misery. Aaron Ramsey made it 4-1 with 20 minutes to go, but if decisions had gone the other way things could have been quite different.
After no points from our first 3 games, it was time for the welcome distraction of the League/Carling/Littlewoods/Milk/Worthington/Aunt Bessies Cup. Portsmouth were drawn against League Two Hereford at home and the difference in class was evident as Pompey scored three times in the first half. Piquionne scored the first and then set up the second for Utaka. Kranjcar added a third as he netted his last goal for the club. Richard Hughes gave the 6,645 fans in attendance a rare sight when he hammered home the fourth before the Bulls scored a consolation from the spot. A professional performance from Pompey as they looked to take this form into the league.
The final game of August saw Man City visit Fratton Park. Man City had a 100% record going into the match and Emmanuel Adebayor gave the visitors the lead half an hour in. City could have doubled the lead on a number of occasions but Pompey rode their luck and started to gain a foothold in the game second half. Mullins, Hughes, Utaka and Kaboul all had decent chances to equalise. However, the best chance fell to David Nugent, who found himself with only Shay Given to beat from 8 yards. But he scuffed his shot into Shay Given's shoulder (which turned out to be his last contribution for Pompey) and City left with all 3 points.
Pompey ended August bottom of the league, with no points and no idea what was happening behind the scenes. Things could only improve from here. Right?
SEASON REVIEW: Pre-Season - here.