Pompey season review - January
Summer, August, September, October, November and December 2006 have been reviewed. We started well, but we had started to slip - what would January bring?
Pompey started the month - and the year - on Monday 1st with a new years day game in front of 20,194 fans at Fratton, with Spurs the visitors. A few changes were made as Pedro Mendes, Benjani and Kanu came back with Manuel Fernandes, Niko Kranjcar and Andrew Cole left out.
Noe Pamarot's year did not start to well, he had already taken some stick for almost taking Hossam Ghaly's head off - getting more from Martin Jol after - before picking up an injury that forced him off early. We recovered and took the lead through Benjani's fortuitous 29th minute goal. Once again though we switched off and in the 50th minute Steed Malbranque equalised.
Another 2 points lost could be argued, but nevertheless the 1-1 draw with Spurs left us in 6th.
The FA cups 3rd round brought a welcome break from the league on Saturday 6th. A small crowd of 14,336 fans turned out at Fratton for the match with Wigan. There were not wholesale changes in this cup as only Noe Pamarot - injured anyway - and Kanu were left out, Niko Kranjcar and Andrew Cole came in.
A goalless 1st half looked as though it could need a reply to see the tie settled until Andrew Cole's 64th minute goal broke the deadlock. Victory was looking likely until Lee McCulloch's 83rd minute goal drew Wigan level. A replay was the last thing either side wanted, but it was looking even more certain until Cole's second in the 90th minute saw us through.
The 2-1 win over Wigan saw us into round 4.
The first away game of 2007 saw Pompey off to Sheff United on Saturday 13th. New signing Djimi Traore came in for his debut with Kanu also returning at the expense of Niko Kranjcar and Benjani.
Stephen Quinn's 22nd minute goal looked as though it could give Sheff United victory at Bramall Lane until a horrendous mix up gifted Gary O'Neil with an 81st minute equaliser.
The trip to Sheff United was always going to be difficult but after a 1-1 draw we got the minimum required from the game. We stayed in 6th place.
19,567 turned out at Fratton as Charlton arrived on Saturday 20th. The only change saw another new arrival Lauren make his debut, Gary O'Neil missed out.
Relegation threatened Charlton along with Ben Thatcher - roundly booed every time he touched the ball - meant a certain 3 points at Fratton? Nope, Amdy Faye returned to haunt Pompey with the 79th minute winner. So after a poor showing - probably our worst of the season at Fratton - we were condemned to a rare home defeat.
We may have suffered a 1-0 defeat to Charlton, but still no change in the league as we remained in 6th.
The FA cup 4th round saw us off to Old Trafford to face United on Saturday 27th. Many expected a very weak United side to take to the field but that was not the case, some big names were rested, but it was still a very strong side. Pompey changes saw Djimi Traore, Sean Davis and Kanu out - Gary O'Neil returned, with Richard Hughes and Niko Kranjcar also coming in.
Pedro Mendes gained some revenge for having the clearest of goals ruled out at Old Trafford during his Spurs days by clearing a ball 'off the line' to deny Nemanja Vidic a clear goal. We were giving United a game but Wayne Rooney's arrival saw two goals come with it in the 77th and 83rd minutes - his second turning out to be the 'goal of the season' I believe according to Lineker and his pals! Kanu - having come on as a sub - deflected Pedro Mendes' effort in on 87 minutes to give us hope but we could not find the equaliser.
The cup dreams were over for another year after the 1-0 defeat to United. At least we could 'concentrate on the league'. But I was still disappointed as a 'chance' had been missed.
January came to an end with 19,820 fans at Fratton for Boro's visit on Tuesday 30th. Djimi Traore, Benjani and Kanu were restored to the starting line up as Richard Hughes, Niko Kranjcar and Andrew Cole made way.
Frustration reigned as a goalless draw was played out. Pompey had the better of the few chances but they were not taken and but for David James Boro could have won it late on.
The 0-0 draw with Boro had no affect on our league position, we stayed in 6th but lost more ground on those ahead of us.
With the transfer window reopening January saw movement at Fratton, both in and out.
Manuel Fernandes went back to Benfica as his loan was unfortunately brought to an end - what a bizarre dealing that was! Arnold Mvuemba arrived to replace him, coming in on loan from Rennes. On the same day Djimi Traore swapped a relegation battle with Charlton for a possible Uefa cup place with Pompey after a £1million move. The experienced and much talented Lauren arrived on a free from Arsenal having recovered from a long term injury.
Having returned from his loan spell with Luton Dean Kiely left again, this time on a permanent basis as West Brom snapped him up on a free. A nominal amount saw summer arrival David Thompson depart for Bolton and 3 youngsters also left, going out on loan to lower league sides. Jason Pearce went to Woking, Mark Wilson Bournemouth and Richard Duffy to Swansea.
Only one win in January - and that came in the cup - saw our amazing start to the season stall. Although we retained 6th, the league placing we held at the start of the month the Uefa cup hopes started wavering though.
PLAY UP POMPEY!