Season Review 08/09: September

Last updated : 23 June 2009 By Jim Bonner
With a tough start out of the way, September looked like a good month for progress and a chance to gain a strong foothold in both domestic and European competitions.

Ona later transfer deadline day than usual, Harry Redknapp brought Nadir Belhadj to the club on loan from RC Lens whilst Martin Cranie joined Linvoy Primus on loan at Charlton.

An international break which saw Pompey players represented in an England side that thrashed Croatia 4-1 on their own turf meant that the first league game of September didn't take place until the middle of the month.

13/09/08: Premier League Matchday #4: Portsmouth 2 Middlesbrough 1

Harry Redknapp began this game playing wingbacks which left us exposed after some confusion by Sol Campbell and Younes Kaboul allowed Mido to score an early goal for the visitors.

Redknapp changed the system to 4-4-2 at half-time and brought on Nadir Belhadj which paid dividends as the home side dominated and turned the game around thanks to a Jermain Defoe double.

His first goal came when Crouch played him in and his second a neatly taken finish after more pressure meant the ball bounced kindly for him in the box. He could have had a hat-trick but his tame shot was cleared off the line at the end of the game but it didn't matter as Pompey sealed back-to-back wins.

That win set us up nicely for a historic day as Vitoria S.C came to Fratton Park as the famous old ground hosted its first ever UEFA Cup tie.

18/09/08: UEFA Cup Round #1 First Leg: Portsmouth 2 Vitoria Guimaraes 0

Fratton Park embraced this special occasion with a brilliant atmosphere despite a strange kick-off time and were rewarded when Lassana Diarra gave Pompey the lead after some great passing movement.

Guimaraes were handed a lifeline after Campbell was harshly adjudged to foul one of the opposition players in the box but thankfully Joao Fajardo buckled under the pressure and blasted his spot kick onto the crossbar.

Pompey had a penalty of their own in the second half after Joao Moreno took out Defoe in the box but his effort was very well saved by Nilson who also produced a fine string of saves to keep Guimaraes in the tie.

He couldn't stop Defoe in the end though as the Pompey striker finished Belhadj's pinpoint cross to double the lead which would be taken to Portugal for the second leg.

It was back to domestic action for Redknapp's men and next up was a trip to the richest club in the world for possibly the most embarrassing result of the season.

21/09/08: Premier League Matchday #5: Manchester City 6 Portsmouth 0

This rout began when former City goalkeeper David James rushed out of his goal and allowed Jo to round him and scored the first and then he fumbled a corner which Richard Dunne pounced on to double City's lead.

Peter Crouch had a shot blocked off the line before the end of the first half but in the second Mark Hughes' side were rampant. Stephen Ireland created the next two goals for Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips respectively and then substitute Ched Evans got in on the act with a fith before Gelson Fernandes finished the job with a late sixth.

If you didn't laugh at that result you would have cried but things were not going to get any better as Chelsea visited Fratton Park for a Carling Cup tie.

23/09/08: Carling Cup Round #3: Portsmouth 0 Chelsea 4

Chelsea put four past Pompey again when Michael Ballack fell in the box and was given a penalty that Frank Lampard buried. Florent Malouda smashed in a second goal before the break to kill the tie but there was more to come.

Lampard scored his second goal of the evening after David James failed to deal with a cross, allowing the England midfielder to score from all of one yard and Solomon Kalou ended the humiliation with another goal to dump Pompey out of the cup in horrific fashion.

After conceding ten goals in two games Pompey's pride was damaged but they were given the perfect opportunity to restore some of that pride when rock bottom Tottenham came to Fratton Park.

28/09/08: Premier League Matchday #6: Portsmouth 2 Tottenham Hotspur 0

Jermain Defoe scored from the penalty spot after Jermaine Jenas handled in the box to give Pompey a well deserved lead and Peter Crouch nodded in his first goal at Fratton Park against the club he started his career with after Gomes could only parry Armand Traore's cross.

Lassana Diarra was sent off for a second yellow card late in the game but this match would be remembered for the sickening abuse that Sol Campbell received from some of the Spurs fans. Harry Redknapp branded their supporters as idiots, the same supporters he would later go on to call "fantastic".

It had been a solid start to the season despite a couple of heavy defeats. October was just around the corner though and we'd all be in for a massive shock.

Premier League Table on September 30th

7th: Blackburn: 10pts
8th: Manchester City: 9pts
9th: Portsmouth: 9pts
10th: Wigan: 8pts
11th: Manchester United: 8pts
12th: West Brom: 7pts