BURGESS: THE VIBES ARE RIGHT

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.

Cruel

“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.

Clin­i­cal

“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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