It is difficult to know quite where to start after a performance like that yesterday afternoon. In fits Pompey were brilliant but they were all too few and all too brief. The stats show that Scunthorpe had twelve shots on target to the home sides two and that shows a true picture of the game.
It was a typical fourth division game of football with more head tennis played in the first half that football as neither side seemed capable of getting the ball down and playing the game the way it should be. It was Jed Wallace who eventually started Pompey moving with powerful run through the inside left channel which was snuffed out. But it seemed to awaken the home side and a couple of minutes later Simon Ferry fed Sherlock Holmes and his cross was nodded home by an unmarked Tom Craddock for his first Pompey goal.
The crowd stirred and perhaps for a minute began to think this could be the turning point but it was not to be and just four minutes after Craddock strike Scunny were level when Dawson`s corner was bundled home by Syers. The second half once again saw Pompey in flashes with Holmes hitting the bar and Craddock the post. The ball rebounded off the pst and the visitors broke and took the lead as Frank Carson allowed a firm Winnall shot to run loose and again Syers bundled home.
After that it was down to Carson to keep the score down with a number of excellent saves – mind you the scoreboard operator had no confidence for as Scunny broke again he changed the score to 1-3!! It could easily have been but for the efforts of the Pompey custodian. The game petered out and the final whistle was greeted by a chorus of boos and the Fratton End singing ‘that was embarrassing!` It was.
What went wrong? Tough to say really and I am not paid to find the answers but in my opinion big Pat was missed up front, Craddock is too lightweight to lead the line and simply bounced off his marker on every aerial challenge. There was no creativity in midfield with Therry Racon sadly missed and at right back Joe Devera offers nothing going forward and supporting his wide man Wallace. When Guy eventually made a change at right back he sent on Danny East a similar player and not Yassin Moutaouakil or Shaun Cooper who could have offered more.
The centre back pairing of Bondz N`Gala and Sonny Bradley is not working but is there an alternative? Just a few problems to be solved before Southend United roll in on Tuesday night. It was good to see David Coles working with Carson again yesterday. Wonder if he can coach a defense?
Scunthorpe won their first game at Fratton Park in fifty years but Southend have never won on god`s green acre in fifteen attempts!
One footnote to yesterday, did anyone else notice that Referee Kettle was wearing trainers?
Over the top
Remember it was Bjørge Lillelien back in September 1981 in a radio commentary screamed ‘We are the best in the world! We are the best in the world! We have beaten England 2-1 in football!! It is completely unbelievable! We have beaten England! England, birthplace of giants. Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana–we have beaten them all. We have beaten them all.
‘Maggie Thatcher can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher, I have a message for you in the middle of the election campaign. I have a message for you: We have knocked England out of the football World Cup. Maggie Thatcher, as they say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!’
Well that seems to have been nothing compared to the Wimbledon reaction after last Saturday`s thumping at the new Plough Lane. Talk about gloating have they forgotten that they are a club of ten years standing and we have just got a history of seven months since we stepped back for the edge of the abyss?
And was that all really back in 1981??
Come in number three or left back in the changing room
A number of footballers like to call themselves utility players thinking that it makes them more attractive to prospective employers looking to recruit. There are however some positions that these utility men could not pretend to play, one of course is goalkeeper and another in my opinion is left back!
The left back position I consider to be an absolute speciality not as I heard Jamie Carragher say in the week, failed wingers or small centre halves. They require a number of skills, which are a sweet left foot – not talking about flavour, a sound defender, plenty of pace to get forward when the opportunity arises. Now these qualities do not grow on trees and a centre back switched to fill a gap will not have them.
The best left backs have either played there all their career of have been converted from a left winger/wide man. It is the modern ilk to play wide men in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 with the wrong foot i.e. left footed on the right and right footed on the left; personally I think that tends to stall the pace of attacks as the player usually has to cut inside. Guy has said he wants balance and hopes the loan signing of Dan Potts will help that, certainly Marcos Painter has not really impressed in his limited opportunities. A few recent left backs have impressed such as Joe Mattock but the jury will remain out for some time over Carl Dickinson!
I have been watching Pompey for over fifty years and some of the names that come to mind are George Ley, Billy Wilson, Archie Styles, Keith Viney, Colin Sullivan, Paul Hardyman, John Beresford, Fitzroy Simpson, Matt Taylor, and not forgetting Arnand Traore and Nadir Belhadj. I must not forget Alex Wilson who was the only man I have seen who could play equally comfortably on both sides.
Of course the last two were not really the greatest defenders in the world but as a pair they certainly could wreak havoc – five years ago almost to the day AC Milan would vouch for that.
Of course the future left back for Pompey for years to come has to be Dan Butler but when will he get the chance?
There is one left back fill-in I will give some credit to and that has to be Hayden Mullins. When Herman suffered his Achilles injury just before the 2010 FA Cup semi final Avram Grant asked for a volunteer to play at left back and Hayden put his hand up. He was magnificent against Spurs and again Chelsea in the final despite not having a left foot or any pace although he had played in the back four at Crystal Palace and West Ham.
Did you know that the first Pompey player to go out on loan was Dennis Edwards in the 1967/68 season when he joined Brentford and played eleven games netting twice? He joined Aldershot at the end of that spell.
Christmas is coming
Pompey in the Community want to make Fratton Park a sea of blue and white Santa suits as they stage the club`s second annual Santa Saturday on December 14 to raise funds.
On that day Pompey are playing Newport County at Fratton Park and fans are being asked to wear a special Santa Suit to the game.
Clare Martin, CEO at PitC, said: “For a donation of just £5 to our funds fans can collect a suit and feel a real part of Santa Saturday. We are also planning some fun and festive activities to add some extra seasonal cheer to the day.
“We staged this event last year at the Preston game and it proved so popular we decided to do it again.”
The Santa Suits are available in the Study Centre on Anson Road from now until December 14 (subject to availability) and also from the Pompey Bus in the main car park at the Southend and Wycombe home games.
Suits are available in four sizes: small child, large child, small adult and large adult and every suit comes complete with Pompey logoed top, belt, trousers, hat and, of course, a beard!
For more information call Becky at the Pompey in the Community office on 02392 728899.
…. and finally
And email flashed into my inbox this week which showed in just eighteen words how things have changed for good at Pompey. It came from CEO Mark Catlin in reply to a request to set up a food bank collection point at Fratton Park and simply read ‘Whatever any of us at the club need to do to help we naturally are at your disposal. Warm regards Mark Catlin.`
Imagine that happening in the past?