Date: 28th April 2009 at 9:58am
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So, with Pompey picking up a crucial point in the 0-0 draw with Newcastle last night that ‘just about’ secures our premier league safety. But what did Paul Hart make of the display? Lets take a look, as always I will add my own my two-penny’th worth…

Hart on Pompey display
‘I am very satisfied with a clean sheet and a point but I think a tinge of disappointment that we didn’t get all three.

‘I thought it was a very tough game. A very emotional game. Newcastle tried to throw the kitchen sink at it.’

I think the key words with what Hart says are ‘Newcastle tried to throw the kitchen sink at it’, they came out in a blaze of glory but totally ran out of ideas, and to be honest ran out of these fairly quickly! In the main the long balls over the top caused us few problems and we lapped most of them up, and probably could have all night long…

Hart on tactics
‘We were disciplined. We thought we got the tactics right to play against them. There was some massive performance from us tonight.’

The tactics employed by Hart have been questioned by many of us at times, myself included – and I have not always liked them or agreed with them, but they were spot on last night.

It was much, much more important for Newcastle to win than it for us to win, of course I wanted this though, but by not losing we either kept the gap as it was or increased it had we won.

So, without a doubt this was job done! As he would say ‘we are hard to beat now’, which is true.

Hart on Pompey edging it
‘Newcastle had a couple of chances but I think on reflection we had the edge, especially in the second half – I thought we were fantastic.’

Newcastle dominated possession, certainly in the 1st half, but in all honesty their use of this was not anywhere near as threatening as it could, or should have been. Yep, our use of the ball at times was not good, but in the main we made much better use of possession when we did have it.

We were the better side in the 2nd half and I was amazed to see Newcastle have 5 or 6 players behind the ball with only 1 or 2 Pompey players forward on the final 10-15 minutes, these minutes when we looked most likely to go on and win, and but for a better final ball, maybe a player arriving to support quicker or the post denying us we would have won.

Hart on penalty that never was!
‘Having looked at it, I thought it was a penalty when I saw it. And it is a penalty now. Definitely.

‘Peter Crouch doesn’t dive.’

I must have seen this a dozen times now and I am still undecided, but all in all I am not sure it was a penalty? The frizzy haired defender, I forget his name, the bloke from Argentina, left himself open for it to be given the way he went in, but I do not know…had it been Newcastle appealing I feel sure Mike Riley would have given it though!

Speaking of Riley, he really is a piss poor referee…

Rug’s final thoughts
Without a doubt, as said, it was essential for us not to lose this game, and we came away with a point from a fantastic defensive display. Ok, it might not have been pretty all the time, but the determination not to lose is most certainly back. It is just trying to find that ‘balance’ now, as not losing is one thing, but not only having this mentality but also of remembering to win is another.

I was convinced we would concede, which then made me convinced we would have to score to get anything but the more the game went on the more I thought we would be ok, and in a way I am disappointed we did not win – as we could, and maybe should have, although they will probably feel the same. That said we looked the most likely to win towards the end and the team most threatening when you would have expected it the other way round.

The defensive mentality it right for this season, achieving the ultimate target of ‘survival at all costs’ is the way to go. I do not always like this from Hart but as said needs must at this juncture, and these needs are almost served now, so it will be interesting to see how he finishes the season? I remain concerned about his offensive capabilities? But ‘if’ the pressure of relegation threatening us was off maybe he could find the balance then perhaps he would still make a good candidate for the job next season – I remain uncertain if he could though, and we could not go through a whole season playing the way we have and survive again… In an ideal world we could confirm out safety with a game or so to go then we could see what his tactics were with the pressure off?

I cannot finish without a mention of praise for the Pompey fans again, as always they did us proud. They were fantastic, and never seemed to stop singing, especially in the 2nd half and the more we sang the less the Geordies did!

321 of us made the journey I think, and these out sung the Geordies, who must have had around 50,000 – so much for their ‘brilliant’ support, far too many were not supporting the team and this negative approach probably worked against them…


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