Season Review 08/09: November

Last updated : 29 June 2009 By Jim Bonner
November 2008 will be remembered for one glorious, dramatic match on a Thursday night.

But it began on an extremely cold and wet evening against less glamourous opposition and ended on a sour note.

01/11/08: Premier League Matchday #11: Portsmouth 1 Wigan Athletic 2

This game summed up Tony Adams' reign at Pompey perfectly. Having hit the woodwork at least three times, Wigan took the lead when Papa Bouba Diop was judged to have fouled Titus Bramble in the box and Amr Zaki scored the resulting penalty on the stroke of half time.

Luis Antonio Valencia had a goal wrongly chalked off at half time and it looked like Pompey would salvage something from a dire game when Niko Kranjcar fired in a late equaliser through a crowd of players. However, the Latics had the final say when Emile Heskey slotted in a stoppage time winner whic capped a miserable week for the home supporters.

Joe Jordan defected to Tottenham to join Redknapp at White Hart Lane the following week but things brightened up for Pompey fans after a trip to the Stadium of Light.

08/11/08: Premier League Matchday #12: Sunderland 1 Portsmouth 2

Pompey got off to the worst possible start as Djibril Cisse raced onto Andy Reid's long ball and slotted past David James after three minutes. It could have been worse as Kieran Richardson hit the crossbar and James did well to stop Cisse scoring a close range header.

It was a completely different story in the second half as Nadir Belhadj levelled the scored with a thunderbolt from nowhere. Pompey then took control of the half but were gifted the win when El-Hadji Diouf wrecklessly took down Glen Johnson in the box in stoppage time.

Jermain Defoe held his nerve to score and send Sunderland fans and Roy Keane home furious with what they had seen. This would be Portsmouth's final away win in the Premier League season.

Tony Adams added to his backroom staff by bringing in Johnny Metgod as assistant manager. One rookie top flight manager would then meet another as Pompey travelled to Gianfranco Zola's West Ham.

15/11/08: Premier League Matchday #13: West Ham United 0 Portsmouth 0

Craig Bellamy went close for the Hammers early on with a free kick but Pompey would have won this if it wasn't for Robert Green saving three good Jermain Defoe efforts.

The bad news to come from this game would be Lassana Diarra's injury which would keep him out for over a month. This result also meant that Pompey failed to win at Upton Park since promotion and Zola's team would dramatically improve the following month.

Pompey's next match was against newly promoted Hull City who were flying as high as sixth in the league after defeating Arsenal and Tottenham away from home.

22/11/08: Premier League Matchday #14: Portsmouth 2 Hull City 2

Pompey dominated the first half and took the lead after Peter Crouch nodded in Younes Kaboul's cross after heavy pressurs but Hull equalised early in the second half when Michael Turner headed in a corner.

It took a spectacular effort from Glen Johnson to break down the stubborn Tigers after the England right back lashed in a peach of a volley from around 30 yards with his left foot after Hull thought they'd safely cleared the ball.

Unfortunately Pompey's goal of the season would not be enough to win the match after a wrongly awarded corner to Hull ended with Dean Windass pressuring Noe Pamarot into scoring an unfortunate own goal in the 89th minute.

That may have been hard to take but what would follow in our dream encounter with the seven time European Champions would be much, much harder to swallow despite the wonderful occasion itself.

27/11/08: UEFA Cup Group Stage Match #2: Portsmouth 2 AC Milan 2

Fratton Park was bouncing in what was possibly the best match atmosphere I have ever experienced for this once-in-a-lifetime encounter. Milan started better as Filipo Inzaghi hit the post and then lobbed the ball over David James when he should have scored. Pompey recovered as the fans chanted "Tony Adams' blue army!" constantly as the first half ended.

The fans would then enter dreamland in the second half as Glen Johnson's cross was headed in by Younes Kaboul for the opener and then Kanu slid in a second goal as Pompey found themselves inexplicably two goals up against the mighty Kaka and co.

The surreal atmosphere continued as Pompey fans began to taunt their more illustrious opposition. Carlo Ancelotti responded by taking off Andriy Shevchenko and Kaka and replacing them with Alexandre Pato and Ronaldinho.

Just when it looked like Pompey would record a famous win Glen Johnson was wrongfully penalised five minutes from time and the former world player of the year curled in an unstoppable free kick.

Then, after the team worked so hard for the win, Pompey fans were stunned into silence when Inzaghi finished past James in stoppage time to break the heart of every home supporter in the ground.

It was a cruel blow on a bittersweet evening for everyone involved with Portsmouth FC. Nobody who was at Fratton Park will ever forget the atmosphere that night but it could have been arguably the greatest result in our history and we may never see Pompey play AC Milan again in a competitive match during our lifetime.

The team had to pick themselves up for the visit of Paul Ince's Blackburn the following Sunday.

30/11/08: Premier League Matchday #15: Portsmouth 3 Blackburn Rovers 2

After a dire first half, this game sprang to life in the second as Peter Crouch headed in Glen Johnson's cross and Jermain Defoe beat the onrushing Paul Robinson as Pompey raced into a two goal lead.

But the home side once again lost a two goal lead to a team in red and black as Matt Derbyshire scored with a looping header 30 seconds after coming on as a sub and then Tugay equalised with a long range thunderbolt.

Thankfully Pompey got the victory after Sean Davis came off the bench to lob Robinson late on as Tony Adams recorded his second and final league win in charge of Portsmouth.

Pompey finished a dramatic month in eighth place in the league but December would bring a depressive downward spiral and an exit from Europe.

Premier League Table on November 30th

6th: Hull: 23pts
7th: Everton: 22pts
8th: Portsmouth: 22pts
9th: Bolton: 20pts
10th: Fulham: 19pts
11th: Wigan: 19pts