Please, not another Pompey false dawn...

You can't help but do it...

Wednesday, 23rd November 2016, 1:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:10 pm
Kal Naismith is mobbed after scoring Pompey's third goal against Luton. Picture: Joe Pepler

The evidence is compelling not to fall back into old ways. After all, we’ve been here so many times before.

But after Luton the feeling returns once again, like a boozer slipping back into his bad, old drinking habits.

This is the moment. This is when the charge starts.

The feeling of excitement and sense of impetus was palpable after the win of the season at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday. Fans, players and staff.

Pompey had just served up victory in a clash which was ‘top end of League One’ when it came to quality, according to one member of the club’s coaching staff.

Paul Cook’s side were ahead on all the judges’ scorecards at the end of 90 engrossing minutes. No complaints.

And this against a side nine games unbeaten in League Two action and being touted as major opponents in the battle for one of those three automatic promotion slots.

The game was being used a major yardstick by Hatters fans hungry to know if their side have the credentials to be genuine contenders this season.

And, as they made their way off into the Bedfordshire night, it was words of admiration for their opponents which filled the icy air.

The sentiment was Pompey were the best they’d faced and had shown the distance they still had to travel.

But how many times have we seen that before – until witnessing the credentials of Cook’s own side exposed.

The parallels between success over Luton and March’s victory at Accrington are the most obvious. The scoreline was the same, as was the overall manner of dominance against a promotion rival on their turf.

Pompey came away from the Crown Ground believing the charge was on.

By tea-time on Saturday struggling Newport County had battered the Blues into submission on their own patch.

That was the false dawn Cook felt most keenly of all last season. The moment he thought he’d cracked it only to team his brittle side shatter days later.

There were others, of course.

Back when the sun was shining in September last year, Pompey went to a promotion rival in Bristol Rovers, flexed their muscle and picked up a 2-1 victory.

The success saw them move to the top of the League Two pile for the first time – until 72 hours later when Exeter left Fratton Park with the spoils.

Victory over leaders Northampton appeared a defining moment until the Blues stumbled at Leyton Orient in the following game.

Then the long-awaited three 
league victories finally surfaced in April.

Success over Notts County, Carlisle and Dagenham & Redbridge fuelled real hope the late-season charge, which was needed to secure automatic promotion, was on.

But then came two goals in a minute against key rivals Plymouth and a dumbfounding capitulation for York.

Even this term, the same perplexing traits have been exhibited by Cook’s men.

The mental block of stringing a run of wins together appeared to be negotiated early, with four league successes on the bounce in August and September – and three clean sheets the added bonus. That was until the promising work was undone by the ensuing three losses from four.

We know the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.

So we should be awaiting the visit of Stevenage this weekend with some trepidation.

Instead it’s 10 points from 12, two points to the automatic promotion spots and a shrinking gap between Pompey and the leaders.

Optimism, even blind optimism, is the lot of the football fan.

It’s there again with Pompey, alright – vying with the hope they can finally learn from past failings.