Fratton Faithful Season Review 2016/2017: August

Last updated : 15 May 2017 By Jim Bonner

A year ago today Portsmouth were beaten in the League Two play-off semi-final thanks to a last minute winner scored in extra time by Paul Hartley.

Argyle fans flooded the pitch to taunt the travelling Pompey supporters only for their own side to lose the final to AFC Wimbledon at Wembley. A sorrowful Paul Cook applauded the fans and trudged off the pitch with his dejected players.

The manager immediately set about reshaping his squad following that defeat. Brian Murphy was released whilst Matt Tubbs, Adam McGurk and a certain Kal Naismith were placed on the transfer list.

Adam Webster was sold to Ipswich with Matt Clarke arriving at Pompey permanently, whilst June saw the additions of Danny Rose, Carl Baker, Drew Talbot and Milan Lalkovic to the Portsmouth squad.

The squad was strengthened further during the usual busy pre-season campaign in July with Tom Davies, Curtis Main and David Forde joining the Blues and the squad continued its transformation as Ben Davies and Danny Hollands signed for Grimsby and Crewe respectively.

Paul Jones was another to depart just days before the new season began as he left for Norwich. Adam Buxton and Noel Hunt signed as the opening day fixture with much fancied Carlisle approached.

The team that would eventually go on to have the best defensive record in the division conceded after just 14 minutes when Reggie Lambe toe poked the ball past Forde. Jamie Devitt was then sent off and Carlisle employed a 9-0-0 formation for the rest of the game.

Pompey's first goal of the season came via Carl Baker's strike but despite having plenty of possession, the winner wouldn't come and the home side had to settle for a draw from their maiden fixture of the new season.

Highlights: League Two Matchday 1: Portsmouth 1 Carlisle United 1

Former Blue Liam O'Brien and midfielder Amine Linganzi signed and took part in the next game which would signal Pompey's brief stay in the EFL Cup this season.

Paul Cook fielded a weakened team at Coventry but they took the lead courtesy of Curtis Main's penalty. However, goals from Ryan Haynes and Vladimir Gadzhev looked to have won it for the Sky Blues before a stunning free kick from Kal Naismith forced extra time.

Andy Rose scored a third for Coventry and that goal ultimately put Pompey out of the competition with both clubs having extremely contrasting fortunes by the end of the season.

Highlights: EFL Cup Round 1: Coventry City 3 Portsmouth 2

Pompey's wait for a win at the start of the 2016/2017 continued at Gresty Road following a drab goalless draw with Crewe. Main came closest to scoring for the visitors but successive draws in the league already had a few fans asking questions about the character of the team.

Highlights: League Two Matchday 2: Crewe Alexandra 0 Portsmouth 0

The number of doubters grew the following Tuesday as Pompey fell to their first of eleven league losses this season following a 2-0 defeat at Morecambe's Globe Arena.

Ryan Edwards and Tom Barkhuizen scored early goals to condemn the visitors to defeat as arch nemesis Barry Roche produced a string of saves to deny the visitors even a consolation goal. The pressure had turned up on Paul Cook even further with a few fans already calling for his head.

Highlights: League Two Matchday 3: Morecambe 2 Portsmouth 0

Pompey fans were anxious as Colchester came to town and for 80 minutes that frustration continued to grow as Cook's team couldn't break down the stubborn U's defence.

Thankfully, Drey Wright brought down Gary Roberts in the box to gift the Blues the chance to take the lead and the victim punished the Essex side by smashing his penalty in to the relief of most people in the ground. The midfielder then added a second to confirm what was ultimately an ugly first victory of the season but a much needed one.

Highlights: League Two Matchday 4: Portsmouth 2 Colchester United 0

Whilst most of Portsmouth headed to Southsea Common for Victorious Festival the following Saturday, some Pompey supporters travelled to St. James' Park to watch their side take on Exeter.

Once again, the visiting fans had to be patient as on 85 minutesas a barge by Pierce Sweeney on Kal Naismith in the box led to a soft penalty decision. Roberts once again slammed the spot kick down the centre to give his team the lead and they were able to hold on to record their first of twelve away wins this season.

Highlights: League Two Matchday 5: Exeter City 0 Portsmouth 1

The final match of the month was played in the farcical Checkatrade Trophy, a competition which was revamped to allow "invited clubs" to enter a B team with the ridiculous reason being to strengthen the young English prospects in football. The format will continue next season as Football League clubs ignored the views of their fans in favour of a little extra money.

Paul Cook decided to field a much weakened side for the first match of pointless competition and was fined £5,000 for doing so. Yeovil won 4-3 at Huish Park despit Michael Smith's hat-trick but nobody really cared.

Highlights: Checkatrade Trophy Matchday 1: Yeovil Town 4 Portsmouth 3

August 31st brought the usual hysterics on transfer deadline day as Sky employees got excited over which Premier League clubs would spend themselves into oblivion for little gain. Portsmouth's only transfer activity would be to loan Reading youngster Dom Hyam and let Adam Barton leave for Partick Thistle.

Pompey may have had a shaky start to the new season but consecutive wins had provided a platform for Paul Cook and his team to build on. September would be another busy month for the Blues.