By AJ Monger – @AMonger9T5
Pompey’s season to date can already be considered a complete mixed bag.
Consistency is the key to success in League Two, and for Pompey it has proven to be the missing ingredient, in what many fans including myself expected to be a promotion party come May.
With very few players from last seasons squad still with the club this season, the refreshed cavalry of Paul Cook and his men brought high expectations to Fratton Park this season with promotion the end goal.
From a fans perspective it has been frustrating at times but also a very exciting season, seeing Pompey towards the top of the table has been unknown territory since our Premier League days.
However with the Blues currently sitting sixth in League Two, five points a drift of third place I am still very optimistic of promotion whether it be through the play-offs or automatically.
With a game in hand, and Plymouth still to travel to ‘Fortress Fratton’, we can only dare to dream about automatic.
If Pompey showed consistency this season I strongly believe that we would be challenging Northampton for the title.
From beating Accrington Stanley 3-1 away on a cold Tuesday night, to losing 3-0 at home to Newport on the following Saturday shows exactly how unpredictable and how frustrating this Pompey side has been to watch at times.
Late equalisers have also been a nemesis and a huge frustration to our season, with Pompey conceding a goal in stoppage time on four different occasions dropping eight points from winning positions, with the additional eight points we would be on the brink of promotion for sure.
On a positive note, Paul Cook seems to have worked very intensely on stabilising the back four, with Pompey having the best defensive record in the league, and with this in mind people may wonder why Pompey are not in a more advanced position.
I’m sure many will agree with me that Pompey have missed that winning instinct at times, whilst being a tough team to beat with only seven league defeats this season, we have had to settle with the highest number of draws in the league with a total of 15, but it’s hard to understand why we have not won more games.
Have we missed that killer instinct in front of goal or do teams decide to sit back against us? Im sure we could all argue that it is a mix of both.
I have seen the majority of sides visiting Fratton Park stick a lot of men behind the ball and hope to catch Pompey on the counter attack, and in all fairness it has been successful, with a lot of clubs stealing valuable home points from us.
It has been important to get the first goal in the majority of our games, it ensures that teams have to come out and fight to get a result, where we have scored the first goal in a game we rarely don’t go on to win the game.
I am a big fan of Mark McNulty who has brought a lot to the side ever since he arrived on loan from Sheffield United in the form of goals and assists, however throughout the whole season we have seen many strikers come and go with no one really hitting the jackpot.
McNulty formed a dangerous partnership with Caolan Lavery who was on loan from Sheffield Wednesday at the time, although since his departure I have felt that McNulty has been isolated up top, and at times the goals dried up in a difficult period, with the only other out and out strikers being Chaplin and Smith.
Chaplin, the local hero has scored plenty of goals coming off the bench, and has proven to be a threat when he comes on, although when he has been given a starting place the goals have been hard to find.
I cannot complain with how the season has panned out, I have seen us play some scintillating football at times, and some of the best football Fratton Park has seen over the past few years.
There have been many happy and memorable moments this season, but my favourite has to be the 48 pass move which led to a Gary Roberts finish against Premiership opposition Bournemouth in a game where we proved to be the better side for a good hour of the game.
Our final seven games will really determine how successful we have been this season.
Play-offs is the bare minimum, although I am still very optimistic that we can gain promotion without the need of the play-offs.
Seeing the club financially sound and heading in the right direction is very rewarding and I should be satisfied with that after a very rocky period, however being so close to League One after a long and daunting season it would be very frustrating to spend another season at the bottom of the Football League.
One thing I can guarantee is that it is not going to be straight forward, this is Pompey after all and we never make things easy.
All we can do is hope for the best, cheer the boys on and hope Cooky prepares the lads well for battle, with League One being the ultimate goal.