PLAY UP POMPEY

Skip­per Michael Doyle says they’ll be tar­get­ing more glory next term

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

THE hang­over fol­low­ing Portsmouth’s pro­mo­tion cel­e­bra­tions last Mon­day may only just be wear­ing off, but iron­man Michael Doyle is al­ready eye­ing back-to-back suc­cesses.

Four long years in League Two – in­clud­ing a pair of mid-ta­ble fin­ishes and play-off semi-fi­nal heart­break – were fi­nally ended on Easter Mon­day as Pompey tri­umphed 3-1 at Notts County with goals from Jamal Lowe (two) and Gareth Evans (pen) to seal a topthree spot.

Ten wins in 15 matches be­fore the week­end en­abled Paul Cook’s troops to kick on when it mat­tered most, to book their place along­side Don­caster and Ply­mouth in the third tier next term.

Skip­per Doyle has been a war­rior in the heart of mid­field dur­ing the cam­paign, miss­ing just 46 min­utes of league ac­tion – 45 of which came when he was sub­sti­tuted at half-time of a 2-1 Novem­ber loss to Steve­nage fol­low­ing an ugly dress­ing-room brawl with team-mate Chris­tian Burgess.

Cap­i­talise

That mess was quickly ti­died up and, while the 35-year-old Ir­ish­man wryly con­cedes it hasn’t all been smooth sail­ing, he in­sists the joy at reach­ing their tar­gets can’t be over­stated.

“There was just re­lief and sat­is­fac­tion re­ally that we man­aged to get over the line,” said Doyle. “It has been an up and down sea­son, to say the least, but we got the job done with three games to go.

“We had a good cou­ple of days cel­e­brat­ing, but we’re back on it for the fi­nal few games of the sea­son now.

“From Jan­uary on­wards, we were re­ally strong and that paid off. It was up to us to cap­i­talise on other teams’ slip-ups and ev­ery time they did we man­aged to do that.

“We kept get­ting our wins and built mo­men­tum at the right time. We’ve had some big re­sults – beat­ing Carlisle (3-0) away in Fe­bru­ary when they were third and we were fourth was a mas­sive one. We grew af­ter that and we’ve re­ally kicked on and gone up a gear in games when we’ve needed to.

“The big dif­fer­ence is that last year we drew a lot of games. While we may have lost more this sea­son, we’ve won an aw­ful lot more as well.

“Last year we were draw spe­cial­ists, but you’d rather win more and lose a few than have long un­beaten runs with loads of draws.”

To some, the pro­mo­tion of Portsmouth – who were in the Premier League as re­cently as 2010 – has seemed an in­evitabil­ity but fin­ishes of 13th, 16th and then sixth in League Two show how hard it’s been. And Doyle stresses there’s no rea­son to sim­ply settle for get­ting back to League One.

Com­pet­i­tive

“The club has so much mo­men­tum from the last cou­ple of years – play-offs and now au­to­matic pro­mo­tion – and we’ll be look­ing to con­tinue that now,” added Doyle. “As play­ers, we’re al­ready look­ing for­ward to do­ing in League One what we’ve done in League Two. “There’s no rea­son we can’t be chal­leng­ing at the top of the league. It will be tough, though, with some good teams set to come down from the Cham­pi­onship and then us com­ing up. “It will be a re­ally com­pet­i­tive league with a lot of big clubs.Ten or 12 teams will be think­ing they can go up and we’re one of them. “We’ll be build­ing, strength­en­ing the squad and that will only help us put a re­ally good chal­lenge to­gether. We’ve got the ba­sis of a great squad and, if we can add one or two to make us stronger, we’ll be a force in the divi­sion.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

CARRY HIM HOME: Chris­tian Burgess is shoul­dered high by the fans HAPPY DAYS: Man­ager Paul Cook joins in the fun

ROAR­ING HOME: Michael Doyle, left, cel­e­brates Pompey’s suc­cess and, right, Jamal Lowe en­joys the sec­ond goal

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