Pompey season review - December
Summer, August, September, October and November 2006 have been reviewed with Pompey currently sitting in 3rd place - yep 3rd place - but what would December bring?
Saturday 2nd saw the month start with 20,042 watching Pompey at home, with Villa the visitors to Fratton. Glen Johnson returned from injury, Manuel Fernandes, Lomana LuaLua and Kanu also returned, those who made way were David Thompson, Richard Hughes, Niko Kranjcar and Benjani.
Injury forced Lomana LuaLua off early so Benjani came on and soon after this change Villa took the lead through Gareth Barry's 37th minute penalty. It was not until the 52nd minute that Matty Taylor brought us level. With a little over 10 minutes to go Taylor's second (78 minutes) - this time from the spot - looked as though it could be the winner but Pompey switched off and were made to pay. Juan Pablo Angel secured Villa a point in the 82nd minute.
We fought back from a goal down to lead, but then let this slip so the 2-2 draw with Villa saw us drop down to 4th place again.
A second successive home match saw 19,528 fans at Fratton for the match with Everton. Two changes from the week before saw Pedro Mendes and Lomana LuaLua miss out, Sean Davis and Benjani returned.
Pompey were ahead on 14 minutes through the goal of the season - no matter what Gary Lineker and pals say! - when Matty Taylor saw Everton keeper Tim Howard off his line to amazingly volley past him from the halfway line, Kanu had - almost as incredible itself - even won the ball back to set up the goal! Victory was secured in the 26th minute when Kanu added the second.
The 2-0 win over Everton saw us return 3rd.
Saturday 16th and we were off to the new home of Arsenal. They were still unbeaten, could we be the first team to change this? David Thompson and Pedro Mendes returned Manuel Fernandes - as it would have been a third successive start - and Benjani were left out.
We weathered the early storm and even went in at the half time break ahead through Noe Pamarot's injury time goal. Things got even better in the 47th minute as another Matty Taylor special had us 2-0 up. Arsenal pressed and pressed and eventually got that first breakthrough in the 58th minute as Emmanuel Adebayor halved the deficit. Two minutes later Gilberto equalised. Arsenal pushed for a winner but we held on.
We would have settled for a point before the game - but after being 2-0 up with 30 minutes to play the 2-2 draw with Arsenal was a tad disappointing in the end, as a result we dropped to 6th.
Sunday 23rd and a pre Christmas game with Sheff United at Fratton saw 20,164 fans hoping for an early Christmas present. The only change from the last match saw Benjani return at the expense of David Thompson.
A match that we should have won saw us have an early sinking feeling as a 4th minute goal from Rob Hulse has us behind, with this the case at half time. Within two minutes of the restart Phil Jagielka's own goal brought us level, with a 54th minute header from Sol Campbell putting us ahead. Noe Pamarot (68th minute) scored his second in as many games to make victory safe.
The 3-1 win over Sheff United saw us go into Christmas on a high, but no change was made in the league - we remained in 6th.
Boxing day, Tuesday 26th and we were on the road to Harry Redknapp's old stomping ground Upton Park to face West Ham. As with the previous match only one change was made, Benjani - who had returned then - dropped out with Manuel Fernandes - who after his 'mandatory' 2 games was 'rested' - returned.
Two goals from the most unlikely of sources Linvoy Primus (16th & 38th minutes) looked like being enough to secure a rare away win. Former Pompey favourite Teddy Sheringham scored in the 81st minute to give us a scare, but we did enough to win.
After the 2-1 win at West Ham we moved up a place to 5th.
The month and indeed the year concluded with a trip to the Reebok Stadium for a match with Bolton on Saturday 30th - revenge for the 'mugging' we took at Fratton was on the agenda. Pedro Mendes and Kanu were out Niko Kranjcar and a rare Andrew Cole start saw them come in.
The 2nd minute saw us make a dream start as Matty Taylor put us ahead, but we still went into half time trailing. Abdoulaye Faye pulled Bolton level on the half hour and in the 40th minute Ivan Campo put Bolton ahead. Nicolas Anelka's 60th minute effort looked the clincher. Andrew Cole's 89th minute goal proved too little too late.
We ended the month and the year with defeat, so the 3-2 loss at Bolton saw us drop a place to 6th in the table.
November had been a month that we stuttered along in, December saw only one defeat but we still dropped from 3rd to 6th place in the Premiership at then end of it. With the season well underway now the Uefa Cup was very much on many people's mind - but there was still a long way to go.
PLAY UP POMPEY!