Pompey season review - April
Summer, August, September, October, November, December 2006, January, February and March 2007 have been reviewed. We were finding the run in a struggle as we had for several months really, suffering a post Christmas hangover we could not shake, could we do this in April?
April kicked off with 20,223 fans at Fratton for the match with United. Injury ruled out Sol Campbell with Niko Kranjcar also stepping aside, the men who came in were Djimi Traore and Matty Taylor.
Pompey were up for it - as were the crowd - and starting very brightly. And we took the lead after Edwin Van Der Sar could only parry Benjani's effort that Matty Taylor followed up to put us ahead on 30 minutes. United has possession but we dealt well with what was on offer and were a threat of our own. Rio Ferdinand's 89th minute own goal looked like that was that, until John O'Shea's injury time strike brought United back into the game. David James made sure we won with a couple of fine saves after this.
The 2-1 win over United got us back on the right track, we climbed back to 8th.
Easter Monday, the 9th saw us off to relegation certainties Watford. Two changes were made with Lauren and Benjani missing out as Noe Pamarot and Lomana LuaLua came in.
A Matty Taylor special had us ahead on 16 minutes but it was all down hill from there, as the Pompey we know, but do not love, came out to play the all to often role seen on the road. Hameur Bouazza equalised from the spot on 28 minutes after Djimi Traore's clumsy foul, then on the stroke of halftime Gavin Mahon's screamer put Watford ahead with Tamas Priskin adding a third on 51 minutes. Bouazza's second and Watford's fourth came on 72 minutes - although more should have been scored before this. Arnold Mvuemba had only been on the pitch a few seconds when he scored his first goal for Pompey in the 81st minute.
A poor performance saw us lose 4-2 to Watford, but we stayed in 8th.
Saturday 14th saw us return to Fratton and 20,165 turned out to see the match with Newcastle. Three players returned, Lauren, Sol Campbell and Benjani as Noe Pamarot, Djimi Traore and Lomana LuaLua paid the price of the last match by dropping out.
Pompey were ahead in the 7th minute through Benjani and somehow it only remained that way, that was until the 59th minute when Matty Taylor scored another of his trademark goals from distance. Newcastle were back in the game when Emre converted his 69th minute penalty but we did enough.
The 2-1 win over Newcastle should have been far more convincing as chances were wasted, but it could have still been worse but for the woodwork. We were back up to 7th.
We were on the road for our match on Sunday 22nd as we went to Villa - not a happy hunting ground in recent times. Only one change was made as Niko Kranjcar returned in place of Sean Davis.
There was only one team interested in winning this match and it was not Pompey! David James' saves ensured we took away the point Harry Redknapp wanted, but that was not enough.
A 0-0 draw with Villa was at least an improvement on previous form at Villa Park but it did little to help our cause - and we dropped back to 8th.
The month concluded with 20,201 watching a home match with Liverpool on Saturday 28th. Sol Campbell and Niko Kranjcar sat out as Glen Johnson and Djimi Traore returned.
Liverpool were heavily criticised for their line up, but with a champions league final on the horizon they could be forgiven - I was not complaining though! The turning point of this match came after 20 minutes when Matty Taylor had to come off injured, Niko Kranjcar came on. In the 27th minute after a mistake by Jerzy Dudek we were ahead through Benjani, this soon became two after a quick counter and a great cross field pass from Lauren to Kranjcar who composed himself before finishing well in the 32nd minute. We sat back a little too much and had a bit of luck but Sami Hyypia's 59th minute goal proved a mere consolation.
The 2-1 win over Liverpool had thoughts of European football back on track as we moved back up to 7th.
We won all three home matches, but the poor defeat to Watford and the negative showing when getting a point at Villa proved most costly. Uefa cup football at Fratton had looked doubtful, but hopes had been revived as we climbed from 9th to 7th; if we could retain that place we would make it.
PLAY UP POMPEY!