Fan’s View – Pompey and Cobblers

Article by Paul Beasley Monday, October 14th, 2013  

POMPEY

So there was a difference both on (at least in the first half) and off the pitch. I’m not sure which spurred the other. I didn’t sense any negativity from the stands so perhaps the players didn’t either. Perhaps the negative element had stayed away because it was only the JPT, perhaps it would have been rather churlish to be negative having only paid a tenner for a seat even in the SSU or perhaps they had nothing to be negative about.

The first half was so very different to what we have suffered recently. We kept the ball on the floor. Hallelujah. But why was this? Was it down to the youngsters that had been given their chance? Ryan Williams, Scot Davies (actually he’s not young, he’s 25), Callum O’Dowda and Josh Ruffels all played their part. The first two did enough for me to justify a starting place in the league. We had width and our non attacking full backs were pushing forward and seeing plenty of the ball.

We were totally dominant in the first half against an abject Pompey. But for all the chances we had, we didn’t score, and with that comes the inevitable concern. I was also concerned that our inexperience would tell and we would run out of steam in the second half; that’s without knowing how many changes Portsmouth had made to their side and what they were likely to offer for the rest of the match.

In the first few minutes after the interval it was again all us with another few chances created but not converted for one reason or another. But after these few minutes that was all but it. The good things we had been doing stopped and it didn’t take long for the visitors to have turned the game around. Ryan Clarke was being asked to pull off some very good saves but was beaten twice.

Patrick Agyemang is a substitute of some quality. Bringing him off the bench told me that this match, JPT or not, was being taken seriously. In a flash he had scored. He went past a few of our defenders without being unduly troubled and on the edge of the area bang outside of the boot and the ball had shot past Clarkey. The second goal should have been defended better too. Michael Raynes, who rightly has a growing reputation, for the right reasons, was easily beaten in the air.

The goal we pulled back came way too late, made by makeshift forward Raynes and well converted by Beano.

I wasn’t happy that we’d lost this one but there was little to get too upset about. I wasn’t happy with Deane Smalley’s performance. He brought nothing to the party and I had to hold my frustration in when he took the ball towards a defender on the right just outside the penalty area. Did he go past said defender to right or left? No. Did he play the simple pass? No. Did he get a shot away? No. (Actually that was below the belt, a shot from there would have been ridiculous) What he did was show no confidence whatsoever and just stumbled into the defender. Deano v Beano – the balance has swung and there is only one winner at the moment.

I can’t move on from this easily forgotten trophy without a mention of the Pompey fans. To bring over a 1000 for a competition with little kudos and for those fans to support their team in such fervent and humorous manner even when they were playing very badly was leaving a message. So you brought 2500 – 3000 fans to Fratton Park for the League game but just you wait until January when we return and see how many we bring given the chance.

COBBLERS

This mattered so much more than the game four days earlier and clearly the manager had given his line up detailed thought. We had a Whing back and a Wright back. Ok, there’s a joke in there somewhere but I have not got time to find it.

The starting XI left many a raised eye-brow amongst our fan base with plenty of pondering on how they would line up.

I have never been a fan of three centre halves as I think they tend to get in each others’ way. But this worked with Raynes in the middle winning most of the high balls and Jake Wright and Johnny Mullins either side. They are footballers capable of doing a lot more than just the usual lower league centre half stuff and were easily able to glide wider than normal to plug gaps vacated by David Hunt and Tom Newey who had been pushed further up field. We were playing 3-4-3 and it was strange to see our erstwhile full-backs in these more advanced positions.

We might have had more of the ball than Northampton but I thought there wasn’t a great deal to choose between the two teams as half time approached. We hadn’t been bad but I don’t think you could call our display particularly good. Two average teams in an average game is how I would describe it but there was nothing and nobody for the crowd to get irate about so any negativity brought into the stadium remained firmly bottled up. On the contrary the East Stand provided good positive support.

I had wondered if this was because we had chosen to kick towards our own fans in the first half, if indeed the choice had been Jake Wright’s. I obviously wasn’t the only one to think this and there’s a thread on this on Yellows Forum. (Must say that recently some excellent points have been well made on this forum over the last few weeks with regard to the poor home form and poor experience for home fans at the Kassam).

With half time about upon us we witnessed one of the best goals seen at the Kassam. It really was something to savour and we have not been able to say that recently. Firstly there was Dave Kitson’s flick, then Andy Whing’s first time incisive pass to Beano in the inside right position (*)and then the perfect finish. An on form Beano is at his most dangerous when he is running at defenders from this position. With the defender back pedalling Beano is in charge.

(*) – if you are not of a certain age, ask your Grandfather.

With just one minute plus added time to come the objective had to be to get in for the half time cuppa with the lead intact. Amazingly we exceeded this objective.

Penalty? If it had been given against us I would not have been a happy man but without the hindsight of TV replays I have no idea whether Beano was clipped or not and if he was whether it constituted a foul.

But the referee’s assistant, who was very close to the incident, gave it and Danny Rose did the necessary.

The referee, Darren Deadman, who was of the usual standard that we have to endure, chose to ignore 75% of the illegal challenges on Kitson when the arms of the defender were clearly visible doing what they shouldn’t be. Kitson can’t be an angel otherwise he would never have survived as long as he has in the game playing the position he does, but he is more sinned against than sinner. And then there was Matt Duke having the ball in his hands. Then not having it in his hands. Then having it in his hands again. Darren wasn’t dead eyed nor was his linesman. One of them at least should have been looking shouldn’t they? Isn’t that what they are there for?

Aidy Boothroyd had a very strong word with his team at half time. That word was “dive”. That’s all the Cobblers seemed to do after the break. This bemused us and we did less attacking but were still able to stop them from scoring despite the number of free-kicks they were gifted.

As the half progressed we came back into it more from an attacking perspective but couldn’t quite get a third. That didn’t really matter because our work rate and ability to keep the ball meant we saw this out in a reasonably comfortable fashion, which was a pleasant change.

Players and management have rightly taken stick after poor performances but in the interest of balance praise should be dished out all round. Not one player had a bad game and there was more than one contender for man of the match. If anyone thought Kits was lazy after that display they need their heads testing.

Right, back down to earth. We’ve only beaten the team second bottom that was without its best players. But for the record I think we would have been able to hack it even if they had their first choice starting XI available. Also for the record I think Northampton will pull away from the foot of the table.

Does this mean we’ve now cracked the home hoodoo as some of the Radio Oxford texters were suggesting? I say – No, not yet, but a step in the right direction obviously.

And another important question which I think we all know the answer to. Can we keep up our away form? If extrapolated through to the end of the season the rate we have picked up points so far would give us about 60 on our travels. I reckon the chances of that happening is probably less than us winning the FA Cup.

So the key question then, will the inevitable (says he optimistically) improvement in home form be enough to compensate for the inevitable (says he pessimistically) dropping off of away form and keep us right up there at the top of the table?

It’s Accrington next though, and we always do well there don’t we? And they are bottom.

Must stop tempting fate.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 14th, 2013 at 12:13 am and appears under 2013, Comment, News Items. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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