Pompey season review - September
Summer and August 2006 have been reviewed and the start was good. What would September bring, what would we get from the transfer deadline signings and how much would Svetoslav Todorov be missed? Some of the questions we asked.
Saturday 9th saw 19,508 fans at Fratton - so slightly less than the openers attendance - for the visit of another of the previous seasons surprise packages Wigan - a team tipped by many to struggle this time round. Glen Johnson and remarkably, considering the impact he took from Ben Thatcher's forearm, Pedro Mendes both returned from injury to return to the starting line up.
We had to wait until the 49th minute for Benjani's winner to keep his goalscoring run going - that was two in two matches, also two in two against Arjan De Zeeuw's Wigan.
Our unbeaten run to the season now stood at four games - and four clean sheets - after a 1-0 win over Wigan, we retained 2nd place in the league.
Saturday 16th and we were off to the Valley to face Charlton. Life after Alan Curbishley was proving hard for Iain Dowie, but could the former scummer and one time Harry Redknapp target as a possible number two halt our start to the season? Pompey would be unchanged from the Wigan game.
This was an afternoon of frustration for Pompey, although Charlton started brightly and hit the bar in the opening minutes. When it was looking as though maybe a point would have to be settled for up popped substitute Lomana LuaLua with a 74th minute winner, 10 minutes after coming on. As I cried out for him to pass he made me eat my word by unleashing a drive to earn Pompey another win.
The 1-0 win over Charlton - our second successive away win, what was going on! - and another clean sheet to go with it meant we returned to the top of the league!
Tuesday 19th saw Pompey enter the carling cup. After the previous seasons humiliating defeat to Gillingham we did not want the same as we travelled to Field Mill to face Mansfield. Wholesale changes saw new arrivals come in for debuts and fringe players given a run out. Only one player - Matty Taylor - that started the win over Charlton started this tie, in came Dean Kiely, Richard Duffy, Noe Pamarot, Andy O'Brien, Ognjen Koroman, Manuel Fernandes, Richard Hughes, Niko Kranjcar, Andrew Cole and Lomana LuaLua. All bar Pamarot and LuaLua were making their first starts of the season, with Fernandes, Kranjcar and Cole making their debuts. Rudolph Douala made his debut too as a second half substitute.
We might not have had things our own way but we still did enough to win. Fernandes' scorcher after only 5 minutes had us drooling at the thought of what we had to come from the Portuguese international after this - sadly we did not get to see this as a long term thing at Pompey. Matty Taylor opened his account for the season in the 33rd minute as things looked comfortable. Pompey's defence was finally breached for the first time that season when Danny Reet - it took over 530 mins for us to concede our first goal of the season - gave Mansfield hope, but we held on.
The 2-1 win over Mansfield kept hopes alive for a place in the last league cup final to be played at the millennium stadium.
The month concluded with 19,105 fans at Fratton for the match with Bolton on Monday 25th. The starting line up resembled normality after players had been rested for the midweek league cup-tie, an unchanged team for the third league match running took to the field on an emotional evening.
Somehow Bolton managed to come away from Fratton with all three points through Kevin Nolan's 22nd minute strike. Pompey were mugged - thanks in no small part to their keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen - but credit had to go where it was due, Bolton came to do a job and got it done. After more than 470 minutes minutes of Premiership football, in the 6th game of the season David James was beaten for the first time in his Pompey career - as the countries only unbeaten defensive record was ended.
The 1-0 defeat to Bolton saw us slip to 3rd in the Premiership at the end of the month.
September also marked an end to Milan Mandaric's time at Fratton, as Pompey's saviour ended his 7-year association with the club after the defeat to Bolton. Sasha Gaydamak had already taken full control of the club after buying out Milan's stake in the club some months earlier. An emotional evening saw Milan given a true Pompey send off, it was just a shame we could not have sent him off with a win.
The month also saw further transfer activity at Fratton with Andy Griffin leaving for a loan spell with Stoke, returning to the club he had left a decade earlier.
PLAY UP POMPEY!