2016-17 Champions Review: December
After the dust had settled on the Doyle/Burgess debacle, Pompey had a break while others were on FA Cup duty, and during this time Paul Cook called for solidarity during the busy fixture schedule over the upcoming winter months.
A tricky trip to Grimsby was what awaited Pompey after a fortnight without a match, and it was the visitors who had the best of the chances in a closely contested game. Pompey had squandered several opportunities and looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw when Kal Naismith came off the bench to once again rifle home a humdinger of a free-kick which sent the travelling fans into raptures. It was to be the start of his personal renaissance at Portsmouth.
Hartlepool were languishing in the bottom 6 when they visited Fratton Park a week later, and Pompey looked to banish their poor home form which had seen them win only once in their last 7 in all competitions. But once again, the home curse struck and once again it was a returning player uttering the spells. It wasn't a goal that cost Pompey this time, it was a goalkeeper, namely Trevor Carson who had spent a season on loan at Pompey. He returned to Fratton and pulled off a string of fine saves to deny Pompey a victory as the match finished 0-0.
Good old Santa Claus gave Pompey a European holiday for Christmas, specifically a trip over the border to Newport County, who were bottom of League Two and had lost 4 games on the spin heading into this one. But things once again didn't go to form and a turkey based hangover for the Blues saw the hosts take a 2 goal lead shortly after half time thanks to goals from Rhys Healey and Josh Sheehan.
If the first goal didn't shake off the cobwebs, the second definitely did and Pompey started playing with a much higher tempo, and it wasn't long before Rose had pulled one back. On the hour mark, Pompey had a great chance to draw level, but Naismith blazed a spot kick over as Pompey had their tails up. Chances came and went, but Pompey finally levelled with 10 minutes to go, with Enda Stevens scoring his first ever Pompey goal. Not content with a share of the spoils, Pompey once again scored a late goal to win it, with Kal Naismith atoning for his penalty miss by swinging a dangerous ball into the box, eluding everyone and bouncing in the far corner. It was a crucial 3 points which showed a tremendous strength of character and a battling will.
This battling spirit was not visible 4 days later however when Pompey travelled to Yeovil. In fact, nothing was visible as thick fog descended upon Huish Park as the teams emerged. What ensued was a farce of a match, which allegedly finished 0-0, but nobody can be too sure of that. Rumour has it that Kal Naismith and Noel Hunt both had chances for Pompey, and Otis Khan clatter the crossbar in the dying minutes, but nobody can be quite sure as Pompey ended December undefeated, with 2 wins and 2 goalless draws.
The draw away to Yeovil marked the midpoint of the season, and having played every team in the league once Pompey found themselves in 4th place, 7 points adrift of Doncaster and Carlisle, and 9 off leaders Plymouth. It was looking likely that Pompey were once again heading for a play-off spot, but things were going to get worse before they got better.
Written by PompeyFrippy and originally posted in the forum.
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2016-17 Champions Review: August.
2016-17 Champions Review: September.
2016-17 Champions Review: October.
2016-17 Champions Review: November.
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