After 26 games in League One, Portsmouth had lost just three games all season and were sitting pretty at the top of the table, five points clear of second place and six clear of third.
Afterwards, Pompey went on a dismal record from January to March where the Blues failed to win a league match in eight games, thus falling behind their promotion rivals in the league table.
Kenny Jackett’s men finished the season strongly, winning eight of their final 12 games but the slump in mid-season meant the damage was done and Pompey’s fate rested in the lottery and gauntlet that is the EFL Playoffs.
A crushing 1-0 loss on aggregate to Sunderland in the playoff semi-final meant Pompey will be playing League One football next season for the third consecutive year.
The Checkatrade Trophy triumph back in March is just a minor consolation as the 2018/19 season to most fans will be deemed as a failure.
Here are three games from a personal point of view, that were detrimental to Pompey’s promotion aspirations:
1. 16th February 2019: Southend United (A) 3-3
Going into this game Pompey were winless in their last five games, picking up just one point out of a possible 15. Their opponents were in a bad run of form themselves and their mid-season slump mirrored Pompey’s as The Shrimpers had picked up one point from their previous six games, going into this one.
This seemed the perfect time for Pompey to end their miserable run against a side who were ten places below them and 20 points behind.
The game was broadcast on Sky Sports which meant the tie had a much bigger audience and exposure.
Pompey had the dream opening 31 minutes as goals from Brynn Morris, Ben Close and Ollie Hawkins fired them into an early 3-0 lead. It looked as if the slump was over and Pompey were surely back to winning ways.
The two up top system was working wonders as Omar Bogle’s pace and skill perfectly complimented Hawkins’s aerial dominance.
However, a goal just before half time scored by Simon Cox, meant it was 3-1 going into the second period.
In the second half, Jackett decided to make mind-boggling substitutions as he brought the impressive Bogle off and replaced him with central midfielder Gareth Evans in an attempt to protect the lead by ‘parking the bus’, instead of trying to enhance it. Also, the impressive Viv Solomon-Otabor was replaced by the unfit Ronan Curtis.
Jackett’s plan backfired big time and Southend striker Cox grabbed a hat-trick, with two late goals that increased Pompey’s winless run and put them further behind their promotion rivals.
Truth be told, Pompey were lucky even to get a point.
2. 30th April 2019: Peterborough (H) 2-3
Pompey’s good form going into the latter parts of the season meant automatic promotion hopes were still alive and if they beat Peterborough, it meant that they would take it to the final day and just had to better Barnsley’s result to go up.
Tuesday night kick off, a must-win game under the lights at Fratton Park, the Fratton faithful created an obligatory deafening, passionate, 12th man like atmosphere to spur on Jackett’s side to victory.
The hosts endured a nightmare start as they were two goals down before the half-hour mark thanks to goals from Lee Tomlin and Ivan Toney.
However, the atmosphere in the ground remained loud and proud and they were rewarded with two goals either side of the half time interval, scored by Close and Christian Burgess.
With Portsmouth’s season on the line, Pompey were doing anything possible to get that priceless third goal.
Portsmouth striker Brett Pitman then found himself through on goal and he slid the ball to Solomon-Otabor who drilled the ball into the net. However, the winger timed his run poorly and was rightly deemed offside.
Then just over a minute later, Peterborough crushed Pompey hopes by scoring the winner through another goal by Toney.
The result meant Pompey had only one way of going up and that would be through the playoffs…
3. 16th May: Sunderland (H) 0-0 (0-1)
Going into the second leg of the playoff semi-final, Pompey were a goal down thanks to Chris Maguire’s goal in the first leg.
Pompey fans were hoping for a magical night at Fratton Park, where their side would overturn the single goal deficit and they’d be on their way to Wembley for the second time this season.
However, Pompey fans were left distraught, frustrated and disappointed as Portsmouth put across a lacklustre performance in a game that will be unfortunately remembered for matters off the pitch rather than on it.
The game almost got called off as a Sunderland fan decided it’d be a great idea to put out a tweet threatening to blow up Fratton Park. Although, Pompey fans certainly didn’t cover themselves in gold as when Sunderland defender Luke O’Nien accidentally went into the front row of the crowd he was punched in the back by a ‘fan’.
Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole summed the incident up brilliantly, saying: “It was a tense atmosphere, I’ve played here a few times. It’s a great ground with cracking support and it’s a shame sometimes one fan lets them down.”
Those incidents stole the headlines as the quality of the game was awful, as Sunderland played it brilliantly by ‘shutting up shop’ and courageously defending their solitary goal lead.
Pompey’s lack of imagination and plan B was exposed as despite coming close with chances from Gareth Evans and Hawkins, Pompey created very little in either of the two legs and a 1-0 loss was a fair result.
What are your thoughts on this Portsmouth fans? Let us know in the comments below!