Football: Looking Back at the Festive Blues

Football correspondent, Ben Williets, takes a look back at Pompey’s performance over the holiday season with a slow journalism sports report.

The festive season is a busy time in football. Fixtures come thick and fast and it’s a crucial period for clubs with ambitions of promotion. For Pompey – a team that has been pushing for automatic promotion – all their Christmases could be said to have come at once, as the team maintained their surge up the table, despite a rather inconsistent six games.

On the 17th December Portsmouth faced Hartlepool at home and there was no doubt Pompey had their sights set firmly on a victory. A match like this must be dealt with efficiently to secure promotion. However, Portsmouth did not quite get the rub of the green, and the Hartlepool match ended in a 0-0 draw, despite dominance from the home side. Disappointment, but not disaster.

The Blues then faced a Boxing Day trip to bottom side Newport. Undoubtedly a game Pompey should be able to win, the match was quite a contrast to the previous fixture. Newport gained a two-goal lead after 50 minutes, leaving Portsmouth in dismay, and raising questions about their promotion ambitions. But momentum quickly switched back to the south coast team, which pulled one goal in within minutes and followed with an equaliser with ten minutes to spare. But the late match comeback did not stop there. With only three minutes left on the clock, Kal Naismith struck the winning goal to send the Portsmouth faithful home with three points to celebrate.

Yeovil away followed on the 30th December. The match was slightly disadvantaged by horrendous fog and this may have played a part in delivering the final goalless score. The second draw in three games for the Blues left fans frustrated with the team; although still in the play-offs, the top three seemed to be slipping away from Pompey.

Aiming to return to their former winning ways, Portsmouth faced Luton at Fratton Park on 2nd January. Having already beaten the team 3-1 this season, Pompey were confident of claiming all three points. A strike by Christian Burgess in the first half was enough to separate the two sides in this first fixture of 2017. Portsmouth defended resolutely throughout the match, deserving the 1-0 victory they secured.

Three days later and Portsmouth travelled to Doncaster Rovers. A tough fixture on paper, the league leaders proved their worth as they defeated Portsmouth 3-1. Pompey were once again left disappointed at not closing in on automatic promotion. With only nine days’ rest to follow a busy period, Pompey could re-evaluate and focus on regaining some form for the final part of the season.

The time to rest proved crucial as Portsmouth faced the challenge of Leyton Orient at Fratton Park on Saturday 14th January. The Blues effectively won the game in the first half, going into the break leading 2-1. The second half saw no goals, but did see some impressive defending from Paul Cook’s team. Conor Chaplin’s goal on the stroke of half time was the difference, and Pompey more than earned the victory.

Next up was a scheduled game with Crawley on 21st January, leaving fans frustrated at a somewhat controversial decision to postpone the game due to a frozen pitch. The postponed game will be played on 8th March.

With the festive season now feeling a long way behind us, Portsmouth remain within touching distance of the automatic promotion places at just three points off, and sitting at 4th place. This Saturday will see the Blues face Exeter City, currently in 9th place.