POMPEY cross the halfway point of the season at Yeovil tomorrow. Here, Jordan Cross assesses what has unfolded so far and where Paul Cook’s side need to get it right.
Paul Cook’s side occupied the same spot they are sat in today as they headed towards the new year.
The calls from supporters were for two strikers, consistency and improved home form against negative opposition.
Back then, Pompey had picked up 40 points as they crossed the half-way point, were three points off third place and six from the top of the table. Today they have two points fewer, are five points off the automatic promotion slots and seven from the leaders.
History, by and large, seems to be repeating as Cook’s troops hit the middle point of the campaign after the trip to Huish Park to face Yeovil tomorrow.
It’s the same issues facing the team and they are fighting to overcome the same challenges.
Pompey’s recent home form has been the biggest concern for a side looking to prove they are the real deal at this level.
It did appear the corner had been turned as Fortress Fratton returned at the start of the campaign. That was after four straight successes on home turf, but two wins, two draws and four defeats are the figures which make depressing reading from the past eight games at Fratton Park.
It took Cook’s men until April to string three league wins together last term, with too many draws proving costly. Four maximums were returned in September, but Pompey haven’t gone close to doing so since.
Despite the similarities to 12 months ago, Cook’s squad has a very different look to last season. Fourteen signings are testament to the different look Pompey possess. Few would suggest, though, the squad is dramatically improved from back then.
January could put another striker at the top of Cook’s shopping list, with Curtis Main not starting a league game now for well over three months. Eradicating the defensive lapses which have blighted sections of the campaign will be key at the other end.
Pompey exit 2016, however, on a good run and exhibiting powerful away form. One loss in eight league games with five wins and two draws from the past seven fixtures on the road are figures which create optimism.
The table 12 months ago may say Pompey are slightly worse off today than they were then.
But it also shows a Northampton side who won the league by 13 points in third place. Promoted Bristol Rovers were fifth and AFC Wimbledon languished in 13th.
When teams go toe-to-toe with Cook’s men there is no one in League Two who get near them. As the likes of Luton will testify.
The challenge now is to find a similar formula to Northampton and Co to ensure those days arrive consistently in 2017.
– JORDAN CROSS