Well, we’ve had to wait a while but Sunday finally brought that first Fratton Park win of 2018 – victory over Oxford followed the win at Oldham to move Pompey to within two points of the top-six.
In all honesty I still feel a play-off finish is beyond us, but, which is amazing in some ways given such a bad run of form, in general, since the turn of the year, the fact the Blues’ season is still alive does give us plenty to fight for in the final weeks of the campaign.
Kal Naismith’s early goal got us off to a flyer. However, Oxford, in new manager Karl Robinson’s first game in charge, could have been level, if not ahead, by the time our second came.
Firstly, James Henry, a favourite of Kenny Jackett’s who might have joined us last summer, hit the crossbar before Alex Mowatt spurned the chance to draw Oxford level from the penalty spot in the second half, hitting the post – the was then sent off shortly after for a shove on the returning Nathan Thompson.
A Brett Pitman brace, coming fresh from his double at Oldham a week earlier, sealed a 3-0 win.
Jackett’s assistant Joe Gallen was left in charge of first team affairs due to a family issue involving the manager and he found it an ‘extremely pleasing’ afternoon, despite conceding Pompey benefited from a bit of luck.
‘To come away with three points, three goals and a clean sheet – especially at this stage of the season – is extremely pleasing. We haven’t won enough games since the turn of the year, but thankfully it all seemed to click on this occasion,’ Gallen told portsmouthfc.co.uk.
Adding: ‘I spoke to Matt Clarke and he thought he was a bit hard done by for the penalty that was awarded to Oxford. Referees are trying to clamp down on pulling shirts from corners, although it happens so frequently you could end up with dozens of them being given, which probably isn’t right either. Luckily for us it hit the inside of the post and came straight back out again – it was the stroke of luck we needed.’
That missed penalty and subsequent sending off made a difference and from then on in Gallen could ‘only see one winner’ from a game that had got ‘very close’ – a winning run is now targeted.
Gallen said: ‘It’s an important time of year and momentum is starting to swing our way, so hopefully we can go on a run now.’
Due to the fact I had to work it wasn’t until I got home, shortly after fulltime, I was able to actually know the result, which as much as I had a good feeling we would win was particularly pleasing with a few goals going in and another clean sheet kept.
I’ve said it before, above again in fact, but I’ll say it again. I’m not convinced we’ve got enough to make it into the play-offs – even if we did are we really ready to go up? – but who would be against Pompey’s season remaining alive? So, as much as a top-10 finish would be a good outcome it could yet, almost unexpectedly, become another great one…
PLAY UP POMPEY
2017-18 Prediction League – March
Walsall (a) Saturday 31st March 2018 – click here.