Vital Football

September Review

September Review
The international break at the beginning of September gave Portsmouth an extra week to bolster the squad for a flurry of fixtures, 6 games in 17 days to be precise. As the transfer window slammed shut, Portsmouth seemingly managed to secure the signing of Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence from Stoke (who else), with Marc Wilson going the other way. But a clerical error meant a delay in the deal going through for Lawrence, which meant he was instead signed on emergency loan until the window reopened in January. In addition, free agent Ricardo Rocha was re-signed.

All three of these new signings featured against Ipswich at Fratton Park, in a tricky fixture which saw plenty goalmouth action but no goals. Kitson nearly made an instant impact from a Lawrence corner, but his header drifted just wide. At the other end, Grant Leadbitter forced Ashdown into making a great save. Both teams managed to rattle the woodwork, Nugent driving the ball against the bar from the edge of the box, and David Norris drilling a long range effort against the post. Portsmouth arguably had the best of the chances, but 0-0 seemed like a fair assessment of an entertaining encounter.

Still rooted to the foot of the table, Pompey travelled to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace, searching for revenge after the tense shootout at Fratton Park three weeks previous, and it wasn't long before they got their wish. On-loan Everton striker James Vaughan was the hero of the night, opening the scoring after a quarter of an hour and scoring twice early in the second half to complete his hat trick. Despite this, Portsmouth had been on level terms at half time, after Dave Kitson opened his tally for the Blues with one of the easiest goals he'll ever score, after a defensive mix up saw him pass the ball into the empty net. But Palace came out second half and deservedly stole the match, with Neil Danns converting a late penalty to harshly inflict a 4-1 scoreline on the match.

The word luck was being thrown around a lot in the last few seasons, and Portsmouth's lack of it was evident after a trip to Bramall Lane. Sheffield United spent most of the game repelling an onslaught of Pompey attacks. Chances of note fell to Nugent, Utaka and Lawrence, but were kept at bay thanks to some magnificent goalkeeping from Steve Simonsen. Sheffield United barely troubled Ashdown all afternoon, but it was still no surprise when Ched Evans struck a 25 yard free kick in of the post to give the hosts 3 underserved points. Despite it being another addition to the loss column, it was seen as a turning point performance wise.

A double bill against Leicester was up next, both at Fratton Park, with the first of these a Carling Cup match. Once again, Pompey fell victim to the early goal, as Michael Morrison scored after 2 minutes. Kanu and Nugent both had chances to equalize, but a poor miss and a Conrad Logan save ensured the visitors stayed ahead, and on the stroke of half time The Foxes lead was doubled, Lloyd Dyer finding the bottom corner from 18 yards. Things got worse for Pompey just after the hour as Richard Hughes got sent off for foul and abusive language, he is Scottish after all. Portsmouth continued to attack though, and Liam Lawrence gave the Blues a glimmer of hope, slotting home after Logan spilled Joel Ward's shot, but despite a late flurry it ended 2-1 to Leicester.

Despite crashing out of the Carling Cup, Portsmouth were now desperate for points and badly needed to redeem themselves at the second attempt against Leicester for their first league win of the season. They couldn't have had their wish answered more emphatically as the Friday night match was being televised to the nation. After scoring against Portsmouth just 3 days previous, Michael Morrison needlessly handled and Lawrence calmly slotted home the penalty. The game was decided on the half-hour when Miguel Vitor saw red for hauling down Nugent when through on goal. From the resulting free-kick, Lawrence drilled the ball through the wall and into the back of the net via a deflection, scoring his third Pompey goal, all against Leicester.

During the second half Portsmouth looked very comfortable on the ball and created some great chances, and just before the hour mark, they doubled their lead, from 2-0 to 4-0. Nugent firstly bundled the ball home after Logan heroically stopped efforts from Kitson and Nugent in the space of 10 seconds. Kitson then scored immediately from the kick off after a defensive mix up saw Nugent capitalise and square to Kitson who finished coolly. Steve Howard did pull one back for the Foxes, but Kitson scored his second and Portsmouth's fifth from a corner before a mazy run from Michael Brown ended with a cracking finish from a tight angle, rounding of a magnificent win to end a torrid losing streak. It seemed like finally Pompey had turned a corner.

The last game of September was another home match; this time against Bristol City, and a return to Fratton Park for David James, who will go down as one of Pompey's legends. He was having a bit of a rough ride since joining city however, and things weren't going to get any easier as he faced his old team. In a first half dominated by the hosts, James had to be on top of his game keeping out Nugent's strike, tipping Mullin's shot over the bar and keeping enough pressure on Kitson to force him to fire over. But there was nothing he could do just after the break, as John Utaka slotted the ball home from the edge of the box to give Pompey a deserved lead.

This lead was soon taken away from them though as 2 minutes later Jon Stead scuffed the ball and watched it stumble almost apologetically over the line. Pompey refused to roll over though and just before the hour mark the Blues retook the lead through an unlikely source. Lawrence swung in a corner, which was met by a towering header from Portsmouth captain Aaron Mokoena, who scored his first goal in 8 years. Pompey held on to the victory, and even had time to extend the lead in stoppage time, with Kanu unselfishly squaring to Hayden Mullins, who in turn scored his first Pompey goal as chants of "Jamo, what's the score?" rang round Fratton Park.

Out of the relegation zone and playing some decent football, Pompey had now shaken off their poor start to the season and now looked forward to an October which the team entered with a newfound sense of optimism following 2 wins from 2 after failing to win any of their first 7 games.

Pre-Season Review - here
August Review - here

Written by PompeyFrippy.

The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital Pompey Site Journalists.

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Writer:PompeyFrippy
Date:Wednesday June 15 2011
Time: 2:02PM

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