Pompey picked up a point yesterday afternoon coming from behind in a 1-1 draw. Strangely Mansfield have only ever been to Fratton Park once in their history and that curiously that too was on 18th January but back in 1977. That day Stags player manager Peter Morris ran the game and they were 2-0 up in twenty minutes. Call for Dave Kemp who was the league`s top scorer and he delivered once just before the break and then with ten minutes left. Pompey nearly won it at the death when Micky Mellows hit the bar and Kemp could not convert the rebound.
Mansfield were Division Three champions that season and played for the only time in their history in the second tier of English football. On our way up we passed them going down. Yesterday of course they are just back from a spell in the Conference.
Back to yesterday and the game was a pretty affair on a bog like pitch until with Pompey 1-0 down Richie sent on David Connolly and Jake Jervis to give the home side four strikers and eventually the pressure that created chances and a deserved equaliser through hard working Ryan Taylor.
Pompey had four players making their Fratton Park debuts in Danny Alfei, Nicky Shorey, Ryan Taylor and Wes Fogden. They all had an impact on the game with Alfei`s forward foraging, Shorey`s raking passes and Fogden`s nonstop running and harrying of opponents. It was Taylor though who really caught the eye though. After a quiet start he began to get involved more and more, showing some nice touches and neat flicks and a desire to get involved in the action. These are the qualities that Richie signed him for and he more than deserved his goal.
Taylor had earlier been close with a header and a long range effort but until Stags keeper Alan Marriot turned a Connolly shot onto the post Pompey had not had an effort on target. Connolly effort however got the crowd going and minutes later Shorey and Connolly opened up the visitors defence like a can of peas and Taylor was left to cut in from the left and coolly shoot home. In my mind never has a goal been so justly deserved.
Taylor of course does not have a great scoring record and his likeness to Dave Kitson had a small number of fans booing him at Oxford apparently. Why?? Here he was the hero and Toast`s man of the match; in fact the PA announcement that the man of the match was Jed Wallace was rightly greeted with derision by the crowd of over 14,600. Quite how those decisions are made is rather baffling to me, unless after he was substituted Jed spent time voting for himself by text!
Pompey have become difficult to beat now but wins are necessary to pull away from the drop zone. The back four looked pretty solid and it took a very good goal to breach them as a Darryl Westlake delivery was headed back across goal by Jennings and Lee Stevenson acrobatically volleyed home.
Joe Devera and Sonny Bradley now look a solid partnership and full backs Alfei and Marcos Painter also look the part. Both got forward as much as they could but sadly both need to work on delivery when they get to the by-line. Midfield is not an area where the manager has plenty of choice. He has three wide men in Wallace, Barcham and Holmes with Ferry, Racon, Ertl and now Shorey in the engine room. What formation does he opt for? Pompey have played two out and out wingers so far but does he go for a narrower line-up?
When he came on yesterday Connolly played in the hole behind the front three and that too worked well so there are plenty of options for Richie to work with – a plan B and C so to put it. Up front Taylor will have earned a starting spot but Patrick Agyemang had a very disappointing day with nothing going right for him as hard as he tried. Taylor and Jervis might be the next partnership.
Bit worrying too was Simon Ferry picking up another injury hopefully not his same problem.
Pompey go off on their travels for the next two fixtures and both to grounds new to the club. Morecambe at Highbury next week, followed by Wycombe Wanderers the next Tuesday at Adams Park. Points needed from those matches methinks.
The Fog settles on Pompey
With Wes Fogden arriving from Bournemouth someone in the Toast office asked, is he the first former Hawk to play for Pompey? That of course excludes loanees.
Just in case you missed the news the rearranged meeting with Accrington Stanley will now take place on Tuesday 25th February at 7:45.
Pubs to visit before game
We have always kept you up to date with drinking holes near to God`s green acre and we are sad to announce that the Eastfield in Prince Albert Road has closed now closed its doors. Might still be saved but unlikely.
Quite often games at this time of the year can be rather drab post Christmas, dreary affairs. I thought I would look back at one such game that was certainly not in that classification.
The date was 11 January 1975 and the visitors to Fratton Park that Saturday afternoon were high flying Sunderland. A noisy group of Black Cat fans made their home in the cover of the South Stand which I can`t remember too many visitors doing. It was a wet and windy afternoon and the pitch was not unlike it was yesterday.
Coming into the game Pompey were in the relegation zone and Sunderland top. The visitors who had won the FA Cup eighteen months before had gone five weeks without conceding a goal! The first half was all one way traffic towards the Fratton End goal where I was stood (as usual) and it was no surprise when Pop Robson put Sunderland ahead halfway through the half. It was carnage and Pompey fans could hardly bare to watch as the Red and White stripes bore down on goal.
Somehow Pompey reached half-time just one goal behind and in the safety of the dressing room boss Ian St John read the riot act. It worked and with George Graham and Brian Lewis pulling the strings in midfield the game was turned on its head. Sunderland still created chances but Pompey were a completely different side.
Five minutes in Ray Hiron equalised with his first goal of the season and fifteen minutes later Paul Went unbelievably put Pompey in front. Wild scenes of jubilation in the crowd on 14,133 and teta grew as Norman Piper and then Graham paid it 4-1!! In the final minute Sunderland pinched a late consolation through Vic Halom.
That is one game I will never forget because of the incredible turn around. It was also because watching the veterans Lewis and Graham ping the ball about and setting Peter Marinello away was such a joy to watch – was in really thirty nine years ago? Of course had Pompey slipped to a three or four goal defeat that day it would have been instantly wiped from the memory!
The result had two effects; it started a run of three consecutive victories which eventually saved Pompey from promotion. The defeat ultimately would cost Sunderland promotion; had they won they would have gone up in place of Norwich City!
Have you a favourite game you would like to share with the Toast readers? Why not let us know. It does not have to be Northampton or Stockport, just a game that you remember and why.
OK that is it for this week, see ya.