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March Review

March Review
March started with an ideal fixture to extend Pompey's recent run of wins, taking on relegation threatened Scunthorpe at Fratton Park after the fixture was postponed earlier in the season. Despite the hosts dominating the early exchanges, both teams had chances before the break, but Lee Miller failed to find the net for the Iron, and Kanu missed a sitter for the Blues. The breakthrough finally came in the second half, with Dave Kitson answering some critics with a fine drive home from the edge of the box. Pompey put the game to bed 10 minutes from time, when Aaron Mokoena sent a daisy cutter goalwards, beating Josh Lillis for his second of the season. It was a case of waiting 8 years for a goal and then scoring 2 in a season for "The Axe".

Portsmouth's good run had coincided with a flurry of home fixtures, 4 of their last 5 games were at Fratton Park, culminating with a visit from more relegation contenders, Sheffield Untied, who hadn't won in 3 months. Pompey had the best of the opening exchanges, and Greg Halford and David Nugent both should have fired Pompey in the lead before Hermann Hreidarsson did halfway through the first half. The 36 year old was on hand to poke home from David Cotterill's corner, in what was his first goal for the club since December 2009. Kitson and Nugent both had chances to extend the lead but the blunt Blades could only muster up a few weak chances, which Ashdown dealt with easily, as Pompey held on to the narrow yet comfortable win.

The win meant Pompey had accumulated the maximum 18 points from their last 6 games, and gone from possible relegation fodder to playoff contenders. In addition, Jamie Ashdown boasted an impressive clean sheet record, keeping the visitors at bay for 6 straight games, and equalling a record set by Peter Mellor dating back to September 1978. More specifically, he could beat this record if he held out for 35 minutes in Pompey's visit to Ashton Gate.

Bristol City were in fine form themselves, winning their last 3, and started the game on the front foot. They had the ball in the net early on, but Jamie Ashdown's record was still in tact thanks to a linesman's offside flag. Ashdown held out by mere minutes as Bristol City finally took the lead just before half time, Albert Adomah slotting home after some fine interplay between himself and David Clarkson. The new bar had been set for Ashdown, as he replaced Mellor's post-war record with one that read 10 hours and 36 minutes without conceding. But Ashdown's fresh slate only lasted 26 minutes this time, as Greg Halford sliced past his own keeper halfway through the second half. Pompey had a penalty appeal turned down and a few chances which were well saved from David James, but the Robins held on, despite Kitson grabbing a consolation in injury time.

Pompey returned to Fratton to take on a struggling Middlesbrough side who started the campaign with high expectations, but were now in the bottom 5 after a torrid season. Hreidarsson has a habit of going ages without scoring, and then netting in consecutive games, and he was inches away from doing that again here, but his header from Cotterill's cross hit the underside of the crossbar and away to safety. The blues also thought they should have had a penalty after Nugent was hauled down before the break, but the referee and linesman failed to get a clear view of the incident. The second half was a stop-start event, with both sides struggling to string together a succession of passes, a cause that wasn't helped by a whistle happy referee. The game ended goalless, and dented Pompey's already slim chances of a play off place.

Play-off hopes dented, maybe, but a win at the Walkers Stadium would lift hopes once again, against a similarly placed Leicester, also with slim play-off aspirations. The hosts were the better team in the opening exchanges, but found themselves a goal down early on after some poor defending allowed Nugent to pounce and grab his 11th of the season. The main threat for Leicester was the ex-Pompey star Ayegbeni Yakubu, who twice shot wide from a good position. Leicester were bossing the match, and were unlucky not to get a penalty in the second half after the ball struck Ritchie De Laet's arm. Ashdown was on top form to keep the Foxes at bay, including a fantastic save from Kyle Naughton's effort, which looked in all the way, but Pompey held on to a valuable 3 points, thus completing a double over Leicester.

International duties meant the Leicester game was the last of the month, and Pompey had ended on a high, with 22 points from their last 27, and 8 clean sheets from 9 games. Given the recent turn in form, the size of the squad, and the restrictions placed on Steve Cotterill, it was very harsh that he didn't even make the shortlist for Manager of the Month, but with 8 games to go and 6 points separating the Blues from the play-off places, April was going to be an important month in deciding Pompey's fate.

Pre-Season Review - here
August Review - here
September Review - here
October Review - here
November Review - here
December Review - here
January Review - here
February 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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Date:Thursday July 14 2011
Time: 9:11AM

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