Season Review 08/09: October

Last updated : 29 June 2009 By Jim Bonner
October 2009 contained one of the best moments of my Pompey supporting life but also one of the worst as the club was left stunned by Tottenham Hotspur's announcement.

The high would come before the low as Pompey fans invaded Portugal for an amazing experience and a dramatic game at the Estadio D. Afonso Henriques.

02/10/08: UEFA Cup Round #1 Second Leg: Vitoria Guimaraes 2 Portsmouth 2 (Portsmouth win 4-2 After Extra Time)

All Pompey had to do was to not concede two goals to be sure of a place in the UEFA Cup group stages but from the moment Distin and Campbell failed to mark Douglas and allowed him to lash in an early goal you knew it wasn't going to be straightforward.

And in typical Pompey fashion it looked like they might have thrown it away after Joao Alves' long range free kick rolled into the corner of the net to level the tie. Pompey did well to recover and control the second half but neither side could find another goal and into extra time (and the following day) the game went.

Vitoria fans celebrated as they thought they had taken the lead near the end of the first half only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. Just seconds later Glen Johnson ran down the wing and produced a great cross for Peter Crouch to head in and send the travelling fans into wild celebration.

Manuel Cajuda's side now had to score twice but the tie was killed off when Crouch smashed in his second goal from long range to send Pompey fans home delighted, knowing that more European adventure would await them.

Before the draw for the next round Pompey had to recover from that gruelling UEFA Cup tie as Tony Pulis returned to Fratton Park with his Stoke side.

05/10/08: Premier League Matchday #7: Portsmouth 2 Stoke City 1

Pompey dominated the first half but it took a spectacular bicycle kick from Peter Crouch to break Stoke's stubborn resistance before the break. Stoke equalised with a goal from the other end of the spectrum as Rory "Scummer" Delap's long throw was flicked on for former Pompey and Stains striker Ricardo Fuller to nod in.

It didn't take us long to re-take the lead when Jermain Defoe was given space to pick his spot and strike the ball into the corner of the net which gave Pompey a well deserved win.

The UEFA Cup draw was up next and what a draw it was. Pompey were drawn with Italian giants AC Milan as well as SC Braga, Heerenveen and VfL Wolfsburg.

To put that draw in perspective, AC Milan finished 3rd in Serie A, SC Braga finished 5th in the Portuguese League, Heerenveen finished 5th in the Eredivisie and won the Dutch Cup whilst Wolfsburg won the Bundesliga, going the entire season undefeated at home and finished with the most prolific strike force in German league history.

Pompey still had hopes of having a good season in the league as the team travelled to Villa Park.

18/10/08: Premier League Matchday #8: Aston Villa 0 Portsmouth 0

Jermain Defoe missed an excellent chance in the first half as Pompey held firm for the majority of the game despite losing Sean Davis in the second half courtesy of a second yellow card.

The main talking point of this match would be a nasty incident as assistant referee Phil Sharp was struck by a coin that was aimed at Harry Redknapp by a Villa fan as the Pompey manager was given abuse all game by the home support. Given Redknapp's decision the following weekend I doubt many Pompey fans had too much sympathy for him.

Harry's final game in charge of Pompey (for the time being at least, you never know if Redknapp is thinking of coming back or not) was Pompey's first UEFA Cup group game at the Estadio Municipal.

23/10/08: UEFA Cup Group Stage Match #1: SC Braga 3 Portsmouth 0

Luis Aguiar curled in a spectacular free kick from 30 yards early on to give Braga the lead but Jermain Defoe should have equalised when he was one-on-one with 'keeper Eduardo only to have his shot saved.

The game was effectively over when Wason Renteria scored the second goal just as the second half got started. Pompey were getting increasingly frustarated with Braga's diving and petulence and their misery was compounded when Sean Davis slid the ball onto David James'post and Alan tapped in a late third goal.

Pompey fans were disappointed with that result but everyone involved with the club, including the players would all be shocked to the core the following Saturday night as Tottenham Hotspur revealed that Portsmouth had allowed them to take Harry Redknapp to White Hart Lane.

Redknapp claimed that Pompey needed the £5 million compensation they would receive from Spurs because Sacha Gaydamak needed the money. Peter Storrie claimed he did everything he could to keep Harry but his heart was set on going to a club rock bottom of the league with only 2 points from 8 games.

Tony Adams took temporary charge of Pompey as Fulham were the visitors to a stunned Fratton Park.

26/10/08: Premier League Matchday #9: Portsmouth 1 Fulham 1

The home crowd were fully behind Tony Adams and Joe Jordan and when Jermain Defoe set up Peter Crouch to score the opening goal Harry Redknapp took some abuse.

Pompey dominated most of the game but were made to pay for not finishing Fulham off as Clint Dempsey took advantage of some poor marking to equalise for the Cottagers late in the game. Conceding this late goal set a precedent for the rest of the season as Pompey fans were left to rue what might have been had Pompey seen the last few minutes of this game through to the end.

Tony Adams was confirmed as the permanent manager of Portsmouth FC on the same day that Harry Redknapp returned to Pompey to be given the freedom of the city amongst the boos and heckles of some of the people at the ceremony.

Adams' first official game was a tough task at Anfield the following evening.

29/10/08: Premier League Matchday #10: Liverpool 1 Portsmouth 0

Liverpool dominated this game but the result might have been different if it wasn't for two glaring errors by Papa Bouba Diop.

The Senegalese midfielder headed straight at Pepe Reina from very close range in the first half when it looked easier to score and he was then guilty of a blatant handball in front of the Kop in the second half. David James almost saved Steven Gerrard's penalty but the Reds ended up taking all three points.

The performance was encouraging and it looked like Pompey might do well under Tony Adams and we would still have a great season heading into November. How wrong we were...

Premier League Table on October 31st

5th: Hull: 20pts
6th: Manchester United: 18pts
7th: Portsmouth: 14pts
8th: Manchester City: 13pts
9th: Middlesbrough: 13pts
10th: Sunderland: 12pts