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Club News

Focus On: Portsmouth

By Gerry Prewett

26 September 2017

After overcoming one seaside team on Saturday, Bristol Rovers head down to the South coast to face a Portsmouth team anxious to establish themselves in Division One after a long-awaited promotion.

Like fellow promoted team Blackpool, Pompey also experienced Premier League football in the not too distant past, in their case 2010.

However financial woes saw a rapid drop into the basement Division and despite being a big club at this level it took until last season’s title win for them to escape.

Having secured promotion manager Paul Cook was tempted by the challenge of newly relegated Wigan with Kenny Jackett taking over the hot seat.

An experienced campaigner, Jacket has seen his team have something of a mixed start to the season with a record of 3 wins, 2 draws and 4 defeats from the 9 League games thus far.

The last of those defeats came at Glanford Park on Saturday.

Pompey went behind to Scunthorpe on just 12 minutes as Jordan Clarke was the provider for Lee Novak, who had already chipped a ball onto the cross-bar, to find the far corner of the net.

The scores should have been levelled by the half-hour mark but Oliver Hawkins headed wide from within the six-yard box after a Jamal Lowe cross left him with an easy opportunity.

Within three minutes the enormity of that miss was apparent when the Iron doubled their lead as Duane Holmes scored. Pompey full-back Dion Donohue was only able to head Lewis Butroid’s floated ball to Holmes, who volleyed the into the net.

Scunthorpe allowed the away team plenty of possession for the remainder of the game but little space as they showed why they were able to keep a fifth clean sheet in six league matches.

Speaking after the game Jackett commented, “Scunthorpe got their noses in front during a key period when it was end-to-end and two mistakes from our point of view let them in.

After that, it was very difficult for us to break them down. They were very happy for us to have the ball, but we couldn’t penetrate.”

"They were very happy for us to have the ball, but we couldn’t penetrate. We couldn’t find the right ball at the right time and when we got the ball into their box, it was always a Scunthorpe head on the end of it.”

“Hawkins had three back-post headers and he’s either got to get them back across goal or get the ball on target. I just felt that they did a job on us and the game petered out. They’d only conceded eight goals and it showed why.”

“We haven’t scored enough from corners and free-kicks this season and in tight games like these, you need to take those chances. One set-piece can get you back in the game and provide some confidence, so that’s something for us to work on.”

Looking at the history of all games between the clubs, in total there have been 39, with Pompey dominating, with 21 victories to Rovers 10. Fratton has been a real graveyard for Rovers over the years with 18 games played Rovers have won 2, drawn 3 and lost 13.

The very first clash between the team was an FA Cup tie at Eastville on 13 January 1912. John Jones and Lional Louch goals for Portsmouth and a Hughes goal for Rovers sent the South coast team through to the second round.

The first League game was on 12 February 1921 when Portsmouth won their home game 1-0 with Frank Stringfellow scoring for Pompey, one week later the teams fought out a 2-2 draw at Eastville. Stringfellow and David Watson scoring for the away team and Sid Leigh and Wally Bird scoring for the Pirates.

Rovers first victory at Fratton was a remarkable game which took place on 6 February 1960 in a Second Division game. Two goals by Ron Saunders and others by Harry Harris and Reg Cutler gave the home team 4 goals.

However, doubles by Peter Hooper and Dai Ward along with an own goal by Ron Howells led to a 5-4 away win.

The only other win for Rovers on the South coast was as long ago as 21 October 1975. Bruce Bannister and Gordon Fearnley scoring for the Gas and Peter Marinello for the home team.

In 10 visits since then, all Rovers have had to show for their endeavours is a single draw and nine losses.

Pompey defender Nathan Thompson spoke after the game about how he sees the season panning out, “I felt there was excellent potential in this team to get promoted and we saw that last weekend.

"Fleetwood have brought down a good side to Fratton Park and we’ve put them to the sword. Once we find that consistency and we start to do that more often, I feel like we’ll be in and around it.”

The teams you see near the top aren’t filled with star names. The likes of Shrewsbury and Peterborough know what they have to do to get results week after week.

"If we’re going to find ourselves up near the top of the table that’s what we’re going to have to start doing.”

Speaking about Scunthorpe he said, “They are all well drilled and know their responsibilities. Maybe that naivety from us snuck in because to come away with a 0-0 wouldn’t have been a bad result. They have guys who know the league inside out.”

“They know what it takes to be in and around the play-offs and automatic promotion. That’s what we have to do. We have to find that consistency and pick up points when we’re not playing as well as we can do.”

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