Pompey came away from Newport County`s Rodney Parade yesterday with three very valuable points after a hard fought and possibly rather fortunate 2-1 win
The headlines will say Pompey beat nine man Exiles but Newport started with eleven and their own conduct meant they lost two along the way. Awfs made a few changes and most noticeably back came Ertl as skipper and Ryan Taylor up front in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Taylor from the spot and Jed Wallace got the goals to put the visitors two up at the break and by then Adam Chapman had been sent off for a two footed challenge on debutant Danny Hollands.
In the second County pulled one back and had Darcy Blake sent off for two yellow cards and at the final whistle the visiting fans celebrated. With Northampton thumped 3-0 at home by Bury and Torquay losing to the only goal at Southend the situation a lot rosier but there is still much to do.
Today`s Toast was to take a change from the usual format due to me being out and about on Saturday and the match reflection etc. was to follow the first part. But because of the win and a few glasses of red wine I stayed up and finished it.
Firstly a couple of reminders – Happy Mother`s Day to all Mums out there and a gentle reminder to any kids who may have forgotten.
Secondly I hope you all remember to put your clocks forward on Sunday morning or you may be a little early for any appointments!
What went wrong? Who is to blame?
So what has gone wrong with Pompey this season? It has been so successful off the pitch but an absolute disaster on it.
I believe it is due to one thing and that is lack of continuity. We have no players in the squad with any history of two, three or more seasons at the club. As in the last few seasons Pompey have had to build a squad from scratch although to be fair at least some players could be signed early in the close season as the club`s future was assured.
Guy had assembled a squad and for once Pompey had a good pre-season and that is one thing but no continuity means much more. What club can expect to build a competitive team each season from scratch with no budget and signing other club`s rejects?
Guy started by trying to get a decent backbone to the side. In goal he decided to keep Phil Smith and sign John Sullivan from Charlton who had got rave reviews from his spell at AFC Wimbledon last term. Both however had poor starts to the season and would end up having loan spells away for Fratton Park.
At centre back he pulled off a master stroke and took Joe Devera from Swindon Town. A great signing everybody said, but the big man certainly failed to impress and Bondz N`Gala was signed to plug the gap. Sadly though Bondz after a scoring a few goals in his early games proved a liability defensively at times mostly due to his problems finding a teammate with a pass. The two defender signed from Hull City Sonny Bradley and Danny East have had patchy seasons an East struggled with constant injuries.
In centre midfield Johnny Ertl had been an inspiration towards the end of last term and was seen by fans as the man to lead a promotion charge. Sent off in the opening game he never gained any form and has been out of the side for three months. Simon Ferry was also signed from Swindon and looked a very decent box to box player but a back injury has curtailed his involvement. Romain Padovani brought in from Monaco has not impressed consistently and appears not to have adjusted to the English game.
Up front Guy had Patrick Agyemang and David Connolly both experienced and well over thirty. He opted to bring in Tom Craddock from Oxford and Ryan Bird a goalscorer from non-league Burnham. Sadly Craddock struggled with injuries throughout and Bird had a lot to learn making such a big step up.
In addition to the backbone he signed exciting players such as Ricky Holmes and Andy Barcham but they have been largely peripheral and like most wide players at this level inconsistent.
Richie when he arrived shuffled the pack and brought in Ben Chorley who was a very decent signing and Nicky Shorey an England International. There have also been a number of dips into the loan market but they rarely work to your advantage as players often are just trying to get match fit.
All these players have come and some gone but there was nothing to build on. No players with a hundred games for the club under their belts to help newcomers settle. They may form a team but they are not Pompey through and through. Barker had promised wholesale changes in the summer, do we really need that? Would it be better to try and build on a nucleus of what we have got rather than start again?
Mind you that depends on where we find ourselves of course.
Who`s the ****** in the black?
ESPN ran a story last week listing the top ten blunders by officials in the recent past and surprise, surprise Pompey feature heavily.
At number ten in the worst dive ever we find mention of Robert Pires for Arsenal in 2003 – poor Dejan Stefanovic still has nightmares over that decision.
At number two we find Pedro Mendes and the goal that never was when he was still at Spurs against Man United at Old Trafford that Roy Carroll somehow just managed to keep from hitting the back of the net.
Number one was just a couple of miles away at Manchester City and featured the same player. It was of course the assault on Pedro by Ben Thatcher that Dermot Gallagher deemed only worth a booking. The FA to give them their due did hand Thatcher an eight game ban plus fifteen suspended.
Now we always claim, as Pompey fans that referees treat us unfairly, well ESPN have just added considerable weight to that argument.
Wall of Noise
Right now off to prepare for the wall of noise that Awfs wants for the Hartlepool game next Saturday, throat lozenges at the ready. It is the job of Pompey fans to help their club when they need them and we will always be ready to step up to the mark!!