The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Luke Baker

MOST peo­ple have ex­pected Portsmouth to clam­ber out of League Two over the last few years – but now it re­ally could be about to hap­pen.

As Pompey make their strong­est bid yet for pro­mo­tion, de­fender Chris­tian Burgess is con­fi­dent they will fi­nally achieve their goal.

Back-to-back mid-ta­ble fin­ishes in 2013-14 and 201415 were a huge dis­ap­point­ment, but, after reach­ing the play-offs last sea­son, a dif­fer­ent kind of heart­break awaited Pompey when Peter Hart­ley’s 91st-minute goal sent them crash­ing out to Ply­mouth in the semi-fi­nals.

Burgess doesn’t hide the fact it hurt badly, but the south coast side have used the pain as a spring­board for a con­certed au­to­matic pro­mo­tion charge, launch­ing them­selves into the top three with a mid­week win at Craw­ley.

And the 25-year-old cen­tre-back is ready for the club to fi­nally end their hoodoo.

“We def­i­nitely think this is the year we can get pro­moted,” said Burgess. “But then we thought that last year as well, so it’s not a given by any means.

“How I feel it a lit­tle bit more this year is that we’re ready to go up and it’s in our hands now.


“There’s still plenty of football to be played, but it’s about achiev­ing au­to­matic pro­mo­tion be­cause the play-offs are a bit of a 50-50 and can be very cruel. “Last year we lost in the sec­ond leg in the last minute, and it’s tough to take when you’re only one game away from earn­ing what you think you de­serve.

“But now we’re pretty con­fi­dent. There is a good feel­ing among the group.”

Burgess and his fel­low de­fend­ers are the key rea­son why Portsmouth are look­ing so strong.

No team in the divi­sion had con­ceded fewer than the 31 goals they had let in ahead of yes­ter­day’s clash with Colch­ester. There’s an im­pres­sive 15 clean sheets thrown into the mix, too.

“I’m re­ally proud of our de­fen­sive record,” added the for­mer Hartle­pool and Peterborough man. “The boys put in a real shift – it’s not just the back four and the keeper, it’s the two hold­ing mid­field­ers and the wingers get­ting back as well.


“We’ve kept a lot of clean sheets this sea­son and it’s al­ways nice, as a cen­tre­back, to have the stats to back you up.

“We’re con­fi­dent we can do the busi­ness there. It’s all about be­ing clin­i­cal at the other end now. We’re cre­at­ing chances, so there’s a real good feel­ing that we can pick up a few wins on the bounce.”

As well as a se­ries of con­sis­tently im­pres­sive per­for­mances at the heart of Portsmouth’s de­fence, Burgess also drew at­ten­tion for an­other rea­son ear­lier this year.

When Pompey’s clash with Craw­ley was post­poned due to a frozen pitch in Jan­uary, Burgess sent a tweet say­ing he didn’t know what to do with him­self.

Skill Soc­cer Youth un­der­12s man­ager Will Chitty cheek­ily re­sponded, invit­ing the 6ft 5in pow­er­house to help with a train­ing ses­sion at Brans­bury Park and Burgess duly obliged.

“It drew a crazy amount of at­ten­tion, but I sup­pose that’s so­cial me­dia these days.

“Things can go viral re­ally eas­ily,” said Burgess.

“I sup­pose peo­ple don’t al­ways see it, but that sort of thing does go on be­hind the scenes. Plenty of play­ers hap­pily give up their time.

“Clubs do a lot in the com­mu­nity and Portsmouth are re­ally good for that. As play­ers, if we can help out in the city and give a lit­tle bit back, then we’ll jump at the chance.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

LET IT CHIME: Portsmouth’s Chris­tian Burgess, left, is mobbed by his team-mates

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