Matt Smith shares his thoughts on the Pompey away day to Ipswich Town in the FA Cup 3rd Round on 9th January 2016

7:00am and off goes the alarm. Strong coffee and a few rounds of toast is enough to wake me up properly. Quick check on the essentials for the day, match tickets and rail cards…

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8:15 and my lift to station arrives, with a very excited 11 year old sat in the back. Jack has been a season ticket holder for three seasons now, but had never done an away day.

Here we are…Andover station, a bit earlier than normal.

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Next stop London Waterloo…

…where of course Jack insists on a sign post picture!

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Waterloo already very busy with football fans, saw a lot of Pompey fans en route.

A quick hop on the tube to Bank, then on to Liverpool Street station. Where football fans were welcomed with a large number of Police, thankfully everyone was well behaved.

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Pit stop at Dunkin’ Donuts and the call came over the tannoy for the 11am train to Ipswich. Like scurrying mice we all ran to platform 6, where the queue was already very long. Thankfully we had reserved seats as all carriages were pretty full.

Few pics missed on the way, as we passed some pretty decent landmarks. Most notable was the Olympic stadium and the odd looking thing next to it…whatever it is!

The journey seemed to go very quick, and before we knew it, Portman Road was in our sights.

When we arrived, we proceeded straight to the Station Hotel, where it was already very lively with Pompey fans. The pub had a very good outside area, with a kiosk type bar selling bottles only. Situated right next to the river, the floodlights of Portman Road in clear view.

Beer and banter flowing, plenty of chants between home fans and few thrown up at the bridge crossing the river. All in good taste and home fans seemed to join in and give a bit back.

One or two rounds later we decided to beat the rush and get to the ground. A short 5 minute walk across the bridge and we had arrived. Without a clue of where to go, the stewards were very helpful.

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So here we are in our seats, pretty decent view of the pitch. Excuse my dodgy panoramic picture skills…it was the beers fault!

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Didn’t take long for the stand and the rest of the stadium to fill up. Of course, the Blue Army were on top form. Songs from the minute the teams came out.

So the match itself…

Those that weren’t there would have seen the highlights and the stats, I can confirm they didn’t lie.

Despite a few patches of the game where Ipswich pushed forward, Pompey were in total control. Pompey dominated the first half, with all stats backing this up.

Ipswich can count themselves lucky not to have gone in 2 maybe 3 nil down.

Passing and movement was second to none and every player put a shift in and more.

When Ipswich took the lead in the second half; I think most of us, for a second or two were in a state of bemusement. But we all shook it off and began singing again.

This did the job…two minutes later a fine attacking move saw Kyle Bennett score his third goal for the club, and the Cobbold stand went ballistic. Jack is normally quiet and shy, but even he was jumping around like a lunatic!

You know your team is on top when the opposition resort to ‘Hoof-ball’ and all passes your team make are greeted with ‘Oles’

Then came another moment of magic, super sub Conor Chaplin started the movement with a quick thinking throw in, and received the ball back to his feet which danced to the edge of the penalty area and a low drive to the far corner saw the net rattle. Once again the Cobbold stand exploded.

By this time most of us had lost our voices but we tried to find something to belt out the usual ‘Pompey Chimes’ and variations of ‘Blue Army’ not forgetting ‘He’s one of our own’ directed at the wonder boy Chaplin.

I think everyone will agree what we saw from Pompey was nothing short of brilliant. But unfortunately a very lucky free kick evaded every Pompey player…and Ipswich player to secure a replay at Fratton Park.

All in all, I can honestly say, other than our 2-2 draw down the road, this was one of the best away days I have been to. Jack is still smiling now, safe to say he’ll be doing more away days now.

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