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2016-17 Champions Review.
24 May 2017 10:55 Post ID: #184681 - in reply to #184672
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PompeyFrippy - 23/5/2017 14:13

The thing is, although we were 17 points off Donny, they didn't even crumble until the final 4 games.

The lost only 1 of their 11 games before the last 4, and only lost twice in total between mid-December and mid-April, so to say that they crumbled is only true about the very last 4 games. To claw some of that 17 point gap back while Donny were still in form put us in a great position to pounce and take that 12 point killer blow once they capitulated after promotion was confirmed.


I didn't actually realise the decline was so rapid in the final games to be honest Frippy, so have picked up something new today.
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25 May 2017 09:16 Post ID: #184675 - in reply to #184493
Dickinson, Pompey 'til I die!
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Portsmouth had a 6 point gap at the start of April and were playing as good as they had done all season, but with 7 crucial games remaining (6 of which were in April), not even the most optimistic of Pompey fans could have predicted how the season was about to unfold.

April Fool's Day saw Pompey travel to Hartlepool, who were sitting a comfortable 8 points clear of the relegation zone despite having lost their last 2 games. But there was no joking around from the travelling Blues who produced a fine performance to take all 3 points. Kal Naismith continued his brilliant run of form to open the scoring and Gary Roberts came off the bench at half time to double the lead. Eyebrows were raised when Noel Hunt went off with an injury, and Paul Cook opted to play Naismith up top instead of calling on Chaplin or Kabamba, but his decision was justified when he and Roberts linked up several times in the second half as Pompey strode to victory. Hartlepool on the other hand went on to let their 8 point cushion diminish and were relegated from the Football League.

Pompey retained a 6 point gap over 4th place Stevenage ahead of their home tie with Yeovil. The Glovers were safe with no chance of making the play-offs, so came into the match with no pressure. Portsmouth done the unthinkable on 15 minutes when after Gary Roberts was felled in the box, and Gareth Evans actually scored from 12 yards, something Pompey hadn't done since August after 7 attempts! Yeovil had drew more games than anyone else in the country, including 12 draws in their 19 games since Christmas, so when Francois Zoko equalised for Yeovil courtesy of a large deflection of Enda Steven's, Pompey heads could have easily of dropped. But that was not the case as Kal Naismith made it 4 goals in 5 games to put Pompey in the lead, and with 10 minutes to go Jamal Lowe opened his Pompey account with a tight angled finish to give the Blues all 3 points and push them 8 points clear in the promotion places.

The Yeovil win was a crucial one for Pompey, with many believing we were now out of reach from the chasing pack. 5 games remained with a much superior goal difference the gap was essentially 9 points. With Good Friday approaching the Sky cameras were in town to capture a promotion decider between Pompey and their 13th geographically closest 'rivals' in League 2, Plymouth.

Plymouth have been Pompey's undoing the last few years, and late goals have given Pompey nightmares including play-off heartbreak the season before. A win for the Pilgrims would see them officially promoted, something which their 2,644 travelling fans saw inch a step closer after former Blue Jake Jervis nodded the Green Army ahead in the opening 15 minutes. Portsmouth were knocking the ball around nicely and creating opportunities, but Plymouth always looked a threat on the counter. Pompey equalised on the hour when Luke McCormack spilled Kyle Bennett's cross into the path of Gary Roberts, who lashed the ball home to earn Pompey a valuable point, and more importantly kept Plymouth from celebrating promotion at Fratton Park (despite waiting 30 minutes to see if other results would go their way!).

With 4 games to play, Pompey had an 8 point gap, which meant a win at Notts County coupled with Luton failing to win would confirm promotion to League One. Doncaster still led the league and were 10 points clear, so only a collapse of monumental proportions would give Pompey any hope of winning a trophy(!).

It had been 14 years since Pompey had last tasted promotion, around about the time that Harry Redknapp signed a young Welshman called Richard Duffy. So it was pretty fitting that the same player was instrumental in giving Portsmouth the lead, inexplicably hauling down Kal Naismith to give Evans the chance to open the scoring from the spot, which he did with aplomb. Other results were going Pompey's way, so when Jorge Grant equalised shortly after the restart it was looking like the champagne was going to be put on ice.

But Pompey had other ideas, and a hero was about to be born in the shape of Jamal Lowe. The 22 year old picked up the ball on the corner of the penalty area, turned and rifled home bullet of a shot to give Pompey the lead and send the 4,800 travelling fans into raptures. In the dying minutes, Lowe was set through on goal again, and despite looking like he was about 10 yards offside, the flag stayed down and he coolly converted to put the game to bed. News filtered in from elsewhere that Luton had failed to win, which was met by wild celebrations and an outpouring of fans from the stands to the pitch. Pompey had done it, promoted with 3 games to spare, something that looked so unlikely just a month beforehand, but a great run of form at a crucial time had seen them home.

It was an emotional occasion as the players were lifted aloft, as they embraced one another and fans showed their adulations for the team that had brought Pompey their first success after 9 years of sliding down the leagues. Notts County staff also have to be commended for not only allowing Pompey to celebrate, but for going out of their way to play Mike Oldfield's Portsmouth over the tannoy, and allowing the Pompey players and staff to use the balcony for their champagne inspired celebrations for a day that will live long in the memory.

Paul Cook was full of emotion, but despite the Blues departing League Two at the fourth attempt, Cook promised integrity and said Pompey would play out the rest of the season with the same effort and commitment, even if there was seemingly nothing to play for.

Fratton Park was filled to the brim as fans gathered to welcome home their heroes, and they were rewarded with an early goal from Carl Baker against Cambridge, who were fighting for a play-off spot. Pompey doubled their lead with a precise Kal Naismith free-kick just after the break for what should have been a comfortable victory, until Luke Berry made it a nervy last 10 minutes after curling home a stunning free kick. He nearly repeated this feat in stoppage time, but this time around David Forde was on hand to acrobatically tip round the post to grant Portsmouth all 3 points. Once again, Plymouth drew and Doncaster lost, which meant Pompey had closed the gap on those above. 2nd place Plymouth were now only 2 points away, and Doncaster just 4 with just 2 games remaining. Pompey were looking to take it to a final day showdown.

Pompey's penultimate game of the season was a trip to Mansfield who, like Cambridge, needed a win to give themselves a chance of grabbing a play-off place. Pompey, who were 66/1 to win the league just 2 weeks ago were now cut to 12/1, although things didn't get off to the best start as Mansfield dominated the first half without capitalising. Baker had already walked the disciplinary tightrope earlier in the game, and at the start of the second half Mansfield's Danny Rose stripped Matt Clarke of possession and was in on goal when Clarke resorted to what can only be called a blatant rugby tackle to deny him. With everyone in attendance awaiting the referee to pull out a red card, the home fans and players were furious when only a yellow was produced, Matt Clarke the most relieved man in Nottinghamshire.

Pompey were again left relieved minutes later when Rhys Bennett put the ball past Forde and into the back of the net, only to be denied his celebrations by the linesman’s flag. Things got even better for Pompey on the hour when Carl Baker scored his 2nd goal in a week when he turned his defender inside and out, and his shot took a slight deflection on its way to the net. Matt Green and Kal Naismith were both guilty of spurning glorious chances late on, but somehow it was Pompey who left with all 3 points in a game Mansfield would have felt unlucky to leave with a point. To make it even sweeter, Doncaster had lost at home to Exeter, which meant there was still a chance Pompey could finish the season as Champions.

Pompey only had one game remaining, and after an April which saw them collect 16 points from 6 games nobody wanted the season to end. However, before the season was over there was to be one final twist that nobody could have expected...
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25 May 2017 09:16 Post ID: #184676 - in reply to #184675
Dickinson, Pompey 'til I die!
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Just noticed the double post, feel free to delete one or t'other.
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25 May 2017 09:16 Post ID: #184682 - in reply to #184675
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Deleted one Frippy, then again a month as good as April deserved a double posting!
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25 May 2017 09:16 Post ID: #184688 - in reply to #184675
Pompey ressie
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Pompey had a 6 point gap and were playing as good as they had all season, but with 7 games remaining, not even the most optimistic fan could have predicted how it would unfold.

Click here to read the article

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25 May 2017 09:16 Post ID: #184689 - in reply to #184493
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This was the month when it 'really' happened wasn't it, when you really believed a top-three finish was absolutely done and dusted, and I mean early on.

Absolutely awesome day at Notts County, a real highlight of my Pompey following days, forget the season. As Frippy says credit to County for the show they provided for us after Jamal Lowe came off the bench to show real quality with two classy finishes.

I'd started to think oye oye we could win this, as unlikely as it seemed...
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05 June 2017 07:57 Post ID: #184691 - in reply to #184493
Dickinson, Pompey 'til I die!
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Pompey were on one of their best runs of form in recorded history winning 9 and drawing 1 of the last 11 games. In a run which changed a toothless looking timid team into ferocious and merciless warriors - Pompey had come good when it mattered most and in doing so had escaped the basement division.

Without having to endure the lottery of the playoffs, Pompey only had one match in May. Weeks ahead of the match many saw this as an end-of-season carnival, promotion already in the bag and nothing to play for, let's just have a bit of a party to see the season out. But a succession of freak results had actually meant that the final day of the season could see any one of three teams lift the League Two trophy. Pompey entered the day as third favourites, having to rely on other results going our way for any hope of a celebration.

Doncaster had topped the lead for all of 2017, and despite only needing 2 points from their final 4 games to wrap up the league they continued to trip over their own feet and lost 3 in a row. They travelled to Hartlepool who had only picked up 2 points from their last 27.

Plymouth were now in the driving seat thanks to Donny's recent slip ups, and a win away to Grimsby (who had nothing to play for) would ensure they took the trophy home to Devon.

Pompey could only do what they needed to against Cheltenham and hope both rivals failed to win.

Pompey couldn't have asked for a better start when 13 minutes in a cross from Player of the Season Enda Stevens was sliced into his own net by Finland international Daniel O'Shaughnessy, which put Pompey top of the league for the first time this season!

Grimsby had taken the lead against Plymouth, but Pompey's first visit to the top of the league only lasted 17 minutes as news from elsewhere filtered through that Doncaster had taken the lead against Hartlepool.

Back at Fratton, Cheltenham came out all guns blazing in the second half and looked the more likely to score, until Pompey decided to score 4 goals in 12 minutes. Bennett started things off when his deflected shot wrong footed Scott Brown, before Naismith, Lowe and Evans made it 5-0. But Pompey could have scored 20, it wouldn't have made a difference, the most important goal was going to be scored 325 miles away from the Fratton End.

Hartlepool's Devante Rodney had equalised for the Monkey Hangers in a move that put Pompey back on top of the league and Fratton Park erupted! Minutes later another even louder cheer went up as news filtered through that Rodney had put the 'Pool 2-1 ahead.

Kal Naismith scored again to make it 6-1 after James Deyton had pulled one back, but the result at Fratton was now academic, all eyes were on Blundell Park where Plymouth had equalised against Grimsby and only needed a goal to win the league.

The clocked ticked down at Fratton, and with Doncaster out of the running, people were frantically phoning anybody they could for information. As the final whistle blew at Fratton, some fans jumped the gun and celebrated on the pitch, but 25 seconds later a massive cheer had gone up as the final whistle blew at Grimsby which confirmed that Portsmouth against all odds were the 2016/17 Champions of League Two!

Within a blink of an eye there were 17,000 people on the hallowed Fratton turf, most still in disbelief at how the league had unfolded. Plymouth, who led the league for 22 weeks had bottled it, Doncaster who had been top for 16 weeks had choked by losing their last 4 games, and somehow Portsmouth, who had been top of the league for 34 minutes in total all season would now be lifting the trophy (although not today!).

The season was over, but fans and players would celebrate long into the night reminiscing of all the highs and lows throughout not just this season, but the last decade. After years of suffering, relegations, administrations, near-liquidation and being kicked when we were down, Pompey were now on their way back up and those who had stuck with the club through thick and thin had earnt a night to celebrate this.

It was a season that none of us will forget in a hurry, at times it looked impossible but Pompey had won the League and now they look forward to a summer of strengthening, both on the pitch and in the boardroom as we look to do it all over again in August.

League One, We're on our Way!
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05 June 2017 07:57 Post ID: #184699 - in reply to #184691
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Amazing, think that's the best word for it? Did we deserve to win the League Two title? Well, seen as we were top at the end you have to say yes, as you cannot win it by 'luck' over 46 games can you?!

NOT something I expected with a dozen games to go, let alone half a dozen or even three. However, I retained 'hope' but, admittedly, that's all it was when it came to the Cheltenham game wasn't it.

Feels like it was 'meant to be', we finish - as seems likely - the fans ownership with the only missing title...
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05 June 2017 07:57 Post ID: #184702 - in reply to #184699
Dickinson, Pompey 'til I die!
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Rug, I didn't believe it was possible with 4 minutes to go let alone 4 weeks. As a student of maths, the likelihood of closing a 10 point gap in 4 games is unheard of. If we had been 10 points adrift at the bottom we'd have accepted we were relegated, but at the top it's even harder because the teams above you would be expected to pick up the points, even if we won all 4 games.

That day at Mansfield, how we took 3 points I'll never know, and every week just seemed to be prolonging the inevitable. Even on the final day you'd have got 4/1 on us winning the title - I spent most of the run in once promotion was confirmed convincing myself that the title doesn't matter, only promotion does (as I'm sure Plymouth and Donny fans will be trying to convince themselves now).

But what a day, what a feeling and the perfect end to the season, another trophy for the cabinet, and like you said Rug, if it is to be the final game as a fan owned club, what better way to go out on.
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05 June 2017 07:57 Post ID: #184726 - in reply to #184691
Pompey ressie
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Pompey were on one of their best runs of form in history winning 9 and drawing 1 of 11 games. A run which changed a toothless looking timid team into ferocious and merciless warriors.

Click here to read the article

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05 June 2017 07:58 Post ID: #184730 - in reply to #184493
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Brilliant season review Frippy, enjoyed every month you wrote individually and they came together wonderfully collectively.
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