By Tony Leighton
Portsmouth's return from the brink of oblivion continues at York City on Saturday, where Guy Whittingham's team will be aiming for a second successive away win to stretch their Sky Bet League 2 unbeaten record on the road.
Pompey are on the mend after several years of financial torment, relegations from the Premier League right down to the basement division, a couple of 10-point deductions and a prolonged ownership issue that ended with the Portsmouth Supporters Trust (PST) taking control of the club in April.
Former Portsmouth striker Whittingham was appointed to what is his first job in management last November, initially as caretaker but on a permanent basis following the PST take-over, and it was a baptism of fire for the rookie boss.
"The worst time," Whittingham told football-league.co.uk, "was December and January, when you just didn't know what was happening with the club.
"Every day you came in you thought you might be coming in for the last time because of the situation. You were trying to motivate players who were only here on month-to-month contracts, and with the January transfer window going on players didn't want to be around if the club was going to go out of business.
"But since the take-over things have changed dramatically and it's been very enjoyable. The new board have been wonderful - they're very positive in their thinking, they back your ideas and the communication we've had from them, from my position going upwards and downwards, has been first class."
The PST take-over was warmly greeted by Pompey fans, traditionally one of the country's most passionate groups of supporters. And they are sticking with that tradition, as shown by Fratton Park crowds averaging over 15,000 despite the club having dropped down to League 2 level for the first time since 1980.
They will be disappointed with home results to date, Whittingham's 15th in the table team having lost three of their four league games at Fratton Park while remaining undefeated away, but the manager is confident of an upturn.
"The support has been phenomenal," he said. "We've got over 10,000 season ticket holders, which for League 2 is frightening, and obviously we want to give the fans decent results. But our home form hasn't kicked in yet.
"We've played four of the top five teams at home, mind you, and in three of those games we've finished with 10 men. But apart from the match against Fleetwood here last week we've played pretty well and could have got more points.
"We haven't got as many points on the board as we would have liked, but I think most fans would agree that we are trying to play attractive, entertaining football.
"Hopefully we can boost our points tally at York. They're a few places below us in the table, but they've had a couple of good results of late so it's going to be tough.
"We'll aim for another win, though. We want to push on and have a successful season. Success is relative, but after everything that's gone on at the club I think that if we can get in and around the Play-Offs that will be success this season."
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