Pompey picked up a much needed three points with a single goal win over AFC Wimbledon at Fratton Park yesterday afternoon thanks to new goal hero Ryan Taylor. Worryingly though Taylor limped off with a groin injury soon after and with Pompey`s striking force rather thin all must hope it is not a long absence.
Storms have wrecked the south coast all week and yesterday they ruined the game at Fratton Park as a spectacle. The strong wind blowing from the Fratton End made the ball very difficult to control and the pitch again remarkably dry was uneven and the ball bobbled every time a player attempted to control it.
Pompey however worked their socks off to protect their precious lead given them by the head of Taylor from a Danny Alfei cross after fifty one minutes and just about deserved the spoils. Ben Chorley and Sonny Bradley were man-mountains in the middle of the defence getting their heads on everything that came in as the Dons launched an aerial bombardment and around them other threw their bodies in the way of shots at regular intervals. Trevor Carson between the sticks made several important saves when his defence was breached. Sadly though during the late siege on their goal Pompey could not find any escape route to put pressure back on the visitors.
Two of the next three games are away to the top two Scunthorpe and Chesterfield sandwiched between them in the re-arranged visit of Accrington Stanley. It is important to keep picking up points and with the away form pretty good of late maybe those trips to the leaders are not too daunting. Remember in this division anyone can beat anyone.
In the week I picked up a story that the Dons want to go back to Plough Lane and build on the Dog Track but this is not popular with the locals in Merton or some of them anyway; also perhaps unbelievably Wimbledon is the last Greyhound Stadium in London.
Yesterday`s game was not unlike the Pompey visit to the old Plough Lane back in October 1984 when Pompey lost their unbeaten league record in a game ruined by the wind – that was the day when Wimbledon scored without touching the ball as Noel Blake rolled a back pass passed a grounded Alan Knight!
The Preston Plumber
Tom Finney passed away on Friday aged ninety one. He will always be remembered as one of the true greats of the game and played all his club football for his home town club Preston North End. In fact he was born in the street next to Deepdale and has a stand at the ground named after him. Tom was a late starter in league football due the war when he was he of the famous Desert Rats. He was twenty four when he played his first game in August 1946 and within four weeks he was playing for England!!
He would play seventy six times for his country scoring thirty goals which was at the time a record. A winger who could score goals and along with Sir Stanley Matthews they would fill the wide berths for the national side for years to come. That meant of course that Pompey`s two wingers of the Championship era, Peter Harris and Jack Froggatt would fine their international chances severely limited when they doubtlessly deserved much more.
In my half time interview yesterday I asked Ed for his memories of Finney. He said he was a really skilful player who could play anywhere along the front line, and he saw him play many times at Fratton and even travelled to Wembley to watch him in an England shirt. Some say players in that era would not make the grade in modern times but Ed disagrees and feels that Tom would be a huge success today. When I asked him if he had Tom`s autograph Ed nodded saying I had got them all in my Charles Buchan annuals – now that collection would be valuable and worth a look.
Now I never saw Finney play but I did the other wing wizard Stanley Matthews and those players had an aura about them. Respects were paid to the Preston plumber at Deepdale and the gate yesterday of 4,000 over average showed the love the town held for their man. The last of the era has gone.
What do Tony Adams and Rene Meulensteen have in common? Well it is quite simple really they were both sacked after last minute home defeats to Liverpool! To boot neither were given too much chance to prove their worth as Premier League bosses, .Adams had 106 days and Rene just 76!
Of course Pompey have come across Felix Magath before when they travelled to Wolfsburg in the UEFA Cup in December 2008 when Adams was the manager. The game as we all know ended in a dramatic 3-2 defeat and the European adventure was over. Defensive errors were the problem and that was something Adams could not eradicate during his short period of tenure.
Still a strange coincidence linking all the events and people together but hey that is the Toast role in life I believe.
This managerial merry-go-round just turns and turns but is it the answer? No of course not it is mostly down to panic by so called wealthy owners. Select the right man, stick with him for a set time and let the agreed plan develop. Sounds great but it very rarely happens but me I think it should far more often. There are quite a few very rich ex-managers sitting in television studios courtesy of the settlements they received when sacked by one or more clubs.
Well that`s it for this week. Let`s all hope the weather improves and for any of you out there threatened by floods we ll pray you keep safe.