PompeyFrippy’s review of the 2010/11 Pompey season continues with a look at January 2011.
With a mostly forgettable 2010 now behind them, Pompey kicked off 2011 with a trip to Vicarage road to take on Watford in front of the live television cameras. Despite having Liam Lawrence’s deal finally made permanent, he was ineligible for this game, and Pompey’s lack of creativity showed in a lacklustre performance dominated by the in-form Hornets. They took the lead in spectacular fashion just before half time when Andrew Taylor scored his first ever goal with a perfectly executed volley that gave Ashdown no chance. Marvin Sordell and Danny Graham extended Watford’s lead in the second half, to give the hosts a deserving win, and see a disappointing Portsmouth suffer their first defeat in 5 games.
Within 2 days, Pompey were in action again, this time at home to a Hull side who had proven to be tough opposition on the road, and it was the Tigers who took the lead on the half-hour in somewhat controversial circumstances after Greg Halford was adjudged to have fouled Cameron Stewart, much to the dismay of the whole stadium. Jimmy Bullard made no mistake from the spot, but neither did Liam Lawrence just before the hour, when he equalised after winning a penalty himself. Despite being the better team, Pompey fell victim to a quick-fire double as Matt Fryatt and Nick Barmby put Hull 2 goals clear. Greg Halford soon pulled one back, but Pompey couldn’t find the equaliser which gave Hull a hard earned 3-2 victory, making it 8 games since they lost on the road.
With the league form starting to slip, Pompey had the welcome distraction of the FA Cup, and a tournament which Pompey had been very familiar with in recent years, but any hopes of another cup run took a major blow just a quarter of an hour into their tie with Brighton at the Falmer Stadium after Dave Kitson foolishly swung an elbow at Adam El-Abd, and duly saw red. Pompey were up against it now, but were still carving some decent opportunities, and the Brighton opener came against the run of play, with Chris Wood grabbing the goal. The Seagulls grabbed their second deep into first half stoppage time with Ashley Barnes scoring from the spot after a needless Sonko handball. Tom Kilbey scored his first professional goal with a minute to spare, but Brighton ensured there would be no tense finish with Francisco Sandaza ending the contest with a goal, eliminating last year’s runners-up at the first hurdle.
Pompey had been ran through the mill a lot over the last few seasons, and if one game could sum up this, it would be the trip to the City Ground to take on a Forest team that were undefeated at home for 17 months. Ritchie De Laet joined Portsmouth on loan from Manchester United, and played a huge part in a defence that stood tall despite coming under attack throughout. Nwankwo Kanu had given Portsmouth the lead halfway through the first half with a typical run which saw him dribble in and out of defenders and around the ‘keeper before eventually squeezing the ball home. This goal had seemingly given Portsmouth a massive win until in the 88th minute, when Ibrahima Sonko once again put the ball in the back of his own net to salvage a point for Forest. But the Blues hadn’t finished yet, as they reloaded and shot themselves in the other foot to allow Lewis McGugan to cross for Marcus Tudgay, scoring the winner with the last kick of the game.
Confidence was at a new low after the late late turnaround in Nottingham saw Portsmouth slump to their 4th consecutive defeat, and next up was the visit of high flying Leeds to Fratton. Pompey showed no signs of uncertainty and deservedly took the lead after 25 minutes, Joel Ward scoring his second of the season after some neat play from Lawrence. Leeds equalised straight after the break, with Luciano Becchio adding another to his impressive tally for the season. Pompey retook the lead with half an hour to go, John Utaka with a fine finish after Kanu’s knock down, but the lead was short lived as Davide Somma, just on as a substitute made an instant impact to tie the game up once again. What followed in the last 15 minutes was sheer madness, as the floodlights repeatedly failed in a bizarre series of events, which led to the ref blowing for full time despite nobody really knowing how long was left. Only in Portsmouth…
Jonathon Hogg joined the Pompey ranks prior to the final game of January, as Fratton Park hosted Burnley after heavy snow saw the game postponed 42 days before. Former Blue Eddie Howe had recently took over as manager of the Clarets, and saw his side take the lead on the half hour, with Jay Rodriguez finishing off Daniel Fox’s low cross. John Utaka scored his second goal in two games just minutes after, in what was to be his final appearance for the club. Burnley retook the lead with the 3rd goal in 6 minutes, this time Dean Marney scoring a perfect bicycle kick and despite having most of the game left, Pompey failed to get back into it. Nugent and Lawrence came closest in what was best described as a toothless display, and Pompey ended the month with another loss.
Montpellier agreed to sign John Utaka for £500,000, exactly fourteen times less what Pompey paid for him 3 and a half years before. With Brown, Hughes and Tal Ben Haim all part of the squad but unable to play, Cotterill’s lack of activity in the transfer window had worried some fans, especially considering the club hadn’t won a game in January and now found themselves just 5 points above the drop zone. Same story, different year.
Pre-Season Review – here
August Review – here
September Review – here
October Review – here
November Review – here
December 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.