Marcus Braddock previews Town's first game of the Sky Bet League One season.
Although we started our season last weekend at Middlesborough, our season starts in earnest this weekend on the south coast against Portsmouth. Pompey came pretty close to promotion last season but they fell at the final hurdle as Wycombe somehow found their way into the Championship. Manager Kenny Jackett has brought in last seasons loanee Sean Raggett who made 37 appearances after joining from Norwich. He's also added Callum Johnson from Accrington, a versatile defensive player who can play on the right side of defence and also in midfield. So far Jackett has added one loan player with Bristol City left-back, Cameron Pring joining at the start of September.
Pompey played pretty much a full strength team last weekend in the Carabao Cup last weekend, eventually getting the better of Stevenage 3-1 on penalties after a 3-3 away draw with Ronan Curtis, Gareth Evans and John Marquis getting a goal each.
On Tuesday night, Pompey started their campaign as holders of the 2018/19 Checkatrade Trophy by beating Colchester 2-0 at Fratton Park with a couple in as many minutes for Marcus Harness. They've had to start this seasons' competition with last seasons final yet to be played but that doesn't seem to have dampened their desire.
Having signed ex-Shrewsbury Players in the last couple of seasons I was expecting the same this season but that's proved not to be the case so far this season. He has brought last seasons' loan defender Sean Raggett from Norwich, the 27-year-old made 38 appearances in all competition's last season.
Pompey have also signed 22-year-old Bromley striker Recco Hackett-Fairchild. As a younger player, Fairchild spent time with Fulham, Brighton and Dagenham but has played most of his football below the EFL.
Their latest signing is 23-year-old defender, Callum Johnson from Accrington. Originally a Middlesbrough youth player, Johnson made the move south in 2017 on an initial loan deal but was snapped up quickly and has played well over 100 games for Stanley.
As usual, relevant stats are in short supply at the start of the season so a closer look at what noises are coming from the Portsmouth camp is in order. They're generally quite confident and why shouldn't they be? A good finish last season albeit with an eventual heartache that we know only too well, should point toward an even better next season. The same manager and team with a few additions and something to prove is a dangerous combination and I think they'll be one to watch again. Having said that, I felt the same way last season and was pleasantly surprised to see us prevail at home in last seasons home opener against Portsmouth.
I suppose it might feel a little bit odd playing the same team two years in a row on the first day of the season but recently our barometers for what seems odd have been reset. The new normal is empty stadiums and difficult times ahead for all football clubs. Fortunately, this pandemic has happened at a time when technology is so well developed that we can all watch our teams online. We can also celebrate online via social media so although things seem a bit dark at the moment, they could be much, much worse. We'll all be together soon enough and I have a feeling we'll appreciate it so much more.