The Paul Cook era on the road got off to a great start with a 2-1 win at Naval rivals Plymouth Argyle. The victory was well deserved as Pompey dictated throughout and with more of a cutting edge the margin could have been greater.
Cookie reverted to the side that started the league campaign last Saturday and they began the game on the front foot with Gareth Evans being denied twice in the opening minutes. Pompey though had to wait until injury time to take the lead when Matt Tubbs scoring from the spot after Enda Stevens had been tripped by Hiram Boateng.
The second period again saw Pompey on top for long spells but inevitably Argyle began to come into the game. Pompey held firm and then on 86 minutes Gary Roberts was brought down by Gary Sawyer in an incident almost a carbon copy of the first penalty. With Tubbs now off the pitch Roberts converted the kick to seal the victory.
There was time for some late drama though as the hosts pulled one back through Gregg Wylde and despite appeals for a penalty against Christian Burgess the points were secure.
It is difficult to assess a performance from commentary and text but reading the comments of home supporters it seems as they are relieved not to have play side of Pompey`s quality for some time. Derek Adams Argyle boss said afterwards “Portsmouth are a good side, you can see that with the experience they`ve got throughout their team. We know that; they made seven changes to their team the other night and beat Derby. They`re a good team; at times today we`ve been able to create chances, but we didn`t really play the free-flowing football that we can play, and that`s probably credit to Portsmouth. “
So the Pompey juggernaut is now rolling along nicely with over 1,700 fans making the long trip west and the Crawley game Tuesday night already a sell-out. I expect Cookie to tinker with the selection on Tuesday as he searches for perfection. Expect a similar result too.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Atangana (Hollands 71), Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (McGurk 90), Bennett; Tubbs (Stockley 69)
Goals: Tubbs 45+2 (pen), Roberts 86 (pen)
Booked: Davies, Stockley, Hollands
Subs not used: Jones, Webster, Haunstrup, Chaplin
Referee: Steve Martin
Attendance: 11, 476 (1,719 Pompey fans)
The perfect start
I suppose the biggest thing regarding last Saturday`s opener with the Dog and Duck was that it met expectations.
Over the years Pompey have so many times built up their fans anticipation only to let them down with a gigantic bump. Let`s look at some a few examples –
August 2013 – Oxford United at Fratton Park first game back in League Two. A record crowd for the division turn up to see the newly formed community club open the season as favourites for just about everything. Patrick Agyemang puts Pompey in front and the crowd just expected it to go like clockwork from there on. Result lost 4-1 and the rest is history.
January 1976 – Pompey are languishing at the foot of Division Two – now that is completely different to League Two – and get a FA Cup fourth round draw at Charlton. Everyone makes their way up the A3 and over 26,000 pack into the Valley and watch Norman Piper snatch a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw. Now this is the Pompey that during the autumn lost nine games in a row and until Billy Eames scored the winner against Carlisle two weeks earlier they had not scored at Fratton Park for six games.
The replay however attracts a ridiculous crowd of 31,722 to god`s green acre and Pompey let them down gig time. A complete lack lustre show and three second half goals for the visitors dump Pompey out of the cup. Result Pompey are relegated and spend the next seven years in the football wilderness.
I suppose you can add to that the list the play off semi-final of 1993 – having said that it was Pompey`s only ever appearance in the play offs – when Leicester who finished twelve points behind Pompey and the blues had finished the season with one defeat in fourteen. Fail we did and it was another ten years of mediocrity before promotion was achieved. Looking back at the Division Two table for that season six of the twenty four clubs have since had spells in non-league football! That includes Tranmere Rovers who also made the play offs.
Thinking of Leicester takes my mind back to 1949 and Pompey heading for their first ever league title had a real chance to win the first league and cup double of the century. They are drawn in the semi-final to play the Foxes at Highbury. Leicester City are in those days lowly in Division Two and the game looks a formality. Pompey lose 3-1 with a certain Don Revie the thorn in their side, keeper Ernie Butler has an off day too. Obviously I was not there but I have read so much about that day and how Pompey let their legion of fans down by over-confidence. Result history has to wait until 1961 for Spurs to win the double which is a common occurrence these days. Would have been nice for Pompey to have added their name to the list which at the time had only Aston Villa and Preston on it.
Just goes to show that wherever they are in the league, Pompey have had a knack for letting us down with a bump!
Got any other suggestions? There are loads but I suppose the memory tries to blank them out.
Cup draws are strange things
Daggers went to Charlton in the week after playing Pompey
Derby went to Charlton yesterday after playing Pompey!
He has got something
Pompey spent the start of pre-season in Portugal and one fan living in the area donned his Pompey shirt and cycled down to the training camp from some distance. In line with the clubs community policy Paul Cook invited him to sit with him and watch the training session and they chatted through it all.
The conversation turned to Nigel Atangana and Cook admitted ‘I like Nigel, he has something about him. Not sure what it is but he has something.` That proved to be the case with Nigel starting against the Daggers and Cook waxing lyrical about him in the News.
The same contact also told me about how Christian Burgess joined Middlesbrough and what a lovely lad he is. The contact, a Boro fan living locally, admitted he should still be at the Riverside.
Shoot out time
We were spared the fun of extra time and penalties on Wednesday night due to Conor Chaplin`s winner. Spare a thought for those at this game in the first round of the DFB-Pokal Cup in Germany. This Aalen and Nurnberg match went 120 minutes without a goal leading to a comical shoot-out where only three of the ten penalties were converted. Make sure you watch it to the end, it keeps getting worse. Watch it here it is awful!
Ex players make the news
A couple Pompey snippets that crossed the Chimes news desk – Jamie Ashdown has decided to retire – former loanee Scott Allan has joined Celtic from Hibs for a reported fee of £275,000.