The Championship certainly serves up some great games with both sides going for the win and long may it last. Pompey recorded their fourth win on the bounce by beating a determined Nottingham Forest side yesterday and despite having total domination for spells of the second half had to cling on at the end as the visitors rallied strongly.
But a near full house crowd left the ground buzzing after another value for money afternoon in the Fratton sunshine. The standing ovation given to a returning Hermann Hreidarsson in the final minutes was a flashback to the appearance of Linvoy against Sunderland eighteen months ago. It is happy days at the moment and also a relief to see seven players on the bench for the first time this season.
The Manager of the month will be decided in the next few days and surely there is only one candidate – Steve Cotterill. That has often been a poisoned chalice in the past so I hope they give it to Dave Jones at Cardiff. Cotterill though has proved to the fans that given a share of the luck and a squad of reasonable proportions he has the tactical nous to turn things round. Switching Utaka and Nugent was a master stroke and really turned the team from a stuttering unit into one that purred through the majority of the second half. The way the deadball situations were mixed up was impressive too with refusal just to take long Greg Halford throws or Liam Lawrence free kicks.
The only slight drawback was the fact that chances went begging and the blues were almost made to pay for that. But the climb from 24th to tenth in just seven games is beyond ever fans wildest dreams. In five short weeks we have gone from relegation certainties to play off contenders.
Next weeks game at Derby now takes on huge relevance as a win at Pride Park COULD put us in the top six and set up a real humdinger with QPR the following Tuesday. But it will be tough.
If you hadn`t noticed today is 31st October and here are a few memories of Hallowe`en games from the past –
40 years ago today Mike Trebilcock scored his second hat trick of the month at Pompey trounced Blackburn Rovers 4-1 – Treb’s goals all game in the opeing sixteen minutes. His previous triple had come in a 5-0 win over Watford. Pompey had lost the five intervening games, failing to score in four of them!!
In 1989 Jimmy Gilligan scores his first Pompey goal in a 2-1 defeat at Sheff Utd. Frank Burrows had been the Cardiff manager and when he rejoined Pompey as John Gregory’s assistant brought Jimmy with him for £215,000 – after scoring better than a goal every three games in Wales he dried up managing just five in a season before joining Swansea. Jimmy wasn`t Welsh he just scored goals for Welsh clubs.
Last year of course we had the Aruna Dindane hat trick against Wigan in a 4-0 victory when for a brief time we believed we might beat the drop.
We used to hear that from the Fratton Park faithful when our beloved Pedro got the ball in the opposition half. Now however that mantle has passed to Hayden Mullins.
After almost two years at Pompey Hayden has started to win fans over. That is a surprise to fans of his previous clubs where he was a much loved team member. As a youngster at Crystal Palace he soon became a favourite and went on to win three England U21 caps in 1999. In his two hundred plus appearances for the Eagles he managed nearly twenty goals but when he moved across the Thames to West Ham the goals dried up. Two hundred games again for the Hammers but the big disappointment was missing 2006 FA Cup Final due to suspension.
He joined Pompey in January 2009 (the same day as Pele Chixy) as he club tried to stave off the threat of relegation. Fans however who had been spoilt by the quality of midfield players in the last few years saw Mullins as a man who could and would not pass the pass forward instead favouring the square ball etc. It seemed as though the move to the South Coast was a mistake.
Slowly he proved his worth to the side with his ability to play anywhere and when Hermann picked up his injury at the end of last season put his hand up when Uncle Avram asked for a volunteer to play at left back. That led to Hayden being able to put right his 2006 heartache when he played so well in the 2010 Cup Final.
Now back in the Championship we are all seeing him for the player he is and after Kanu created his first goal against Bristol City he had the confidence to hit that pile driver past the Watford keeper and now the fans shout ‘Shoot!’. So Hayden has proved to be a grafter or is he more than that? With a squad as small as Pompey`s at present you need to have players who are able to play comfortably in more than one position and Hayden sure is one.
So gone are the Muggins shouts and an unsung player now has his image on the rise. He even has band named after him – A Hayden Mullins Experience is a Post Punk band based in Skipton, Yorkshire. Paul might help me with what that means.
The FIFA web site ran the following story last week and it attracted great interest from Pompey fans of a much loved ex player –
A star performer for Internacional since joining the Porto Alegre outfit nearly three seasons ago, Andres D’Alessandro has succeeded in putting a mixed five-year spell in Europe behind him. Indeed, having struggled for consistency at Wolfsburg, Portsmouth and Real Zaragoza, the former River Plate star has turned his career around since returning to South America first with San Lorenzo and now Inter, and has been rewarded with fans` favourite status at O Colorado and a place in the Argentina squad for recent friendlies against Spain and Japan.
Still fiercely ambitious at the age of 29, D’Alessandro remains fully focused and determined to continue turning his stellar displays into silverware, after playing a vital role in Inter`s 2010 Copa Libertadores triumph. And next up for the outrageously gifted No10 is an opportunity to further enhance his glowing reputation come this year’s FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.’
I for one look forward to seeing the future Argentina games on Sky Sports 49!
England honours for Sam
Sam Magri helped England progress to the Elite Qualifying Round of the 2011 European Championship. The 16-year-old Pompey defender scored as the Three Lions beat Sweden in the opening game of their qualifying group in Georgia. His strike was sandwiched between two Hallam Hope goals and delighted boss John Peacock.
He said: ‘Sweden were relatively direct and caused us a few problems in the opening 15-20 minutes, but that second goal really settled us down and we then started to take control of the game.’
Magri was an unused substitute for England`s other two group games. A 1-1 draw with host nation Georgia – who also qualified for the Elite Round – and a 1-0 victory over Poland saw England top the group.
Good to see there is some good news coming from the clubs youngsters at last.
Regular Toasters will remember back in July 2009 we asked the local health authority why they had called their stop drinking campaign Save Dave? I had a feeling it had been a none too closely veiled personal attack.
However last week I discovered that the campaign had been aimed at another rather better known Dave. It was none other than former Pompey keeper David James and he admitted that he had been drunk when he answered the phone from Steve Coppell and decided to consider a move to Bristol City. Jamo told the story that when the phone rang the number calling was not known. He said that he would not normally answer that type of call but having had a ‘few drinks’ and thought what the hell. The rest is history and Pompey lost their great keeper and we will always think did he make a big mistake?
So remember when you get the leaflet through the door it should read – Save Dave James!
Rug had been pestering me after the Hull game to answer a fairly simple question ‘when did we last win two away games in quick succession – in four days or less?’ Turns out this was the ‘discussion’ in their car on the return from Humberside last weekend and of course yours truly was to get the call expected to answer the query immediately from my stool in the Eastney Tavern! The question was raised by Rug in his article ‘The story of the season’ and here is the answer.
It happened rather surprisingly in the season 1997/98 – one of the many in the nineties when the relegation wind blew strongly through Fratton Park. As mid February arrived Pompey had picked up just one point from seven games and were rooted to the foot of Division One when Stockport visited the Park on a Tuesday evening. That night will go down in Pompey folklore as Steve Claridge scored his first goal for the club and the crowd, just 8,622 of them, roared their team home with a wall of continuous noise.
That started the recovery and the away games at fellow strugglers Reading and mid table West Bromwich Albion took on great significance. A large contingent of fans made the trip to Elm Park that Saturday and a late Adrian Whitbread goal seals another three points. Three days later an emphatic win at the Hawthorns is earned by David Hillier, Claridge and Alan McLoughlin. That gives two wins in just three days and came in a season that I bet the happy travellers did not think of.
‘Challenge Dave’ – the series used to be called where I tried to answer your Pompey related questions – got anymore sensible queries.
Did you put your clocks back?