The story of the season - Leeds (h)
2010/11 season v Leeds in the league at Fratton, Friday 21st - Wednesday 26th January 2011.
As always, with a home game, my journey began on a Friday - as was also fairly usual this began on a Friday night with a later train. Less usual was the fact that I began from my 'official home' and not Dawlish, as I decided it made more sense to leave from my end later in the day and spend this earlier period cracking on with some work.
The 18:02 - Exeter St Davids was on time, so that part of my journey was fine. I had decided that I would try to 'vary' my journey a bit in order to get in a little earlier. So, assuming my 19:27 - London Victoria ran as scheduled I planned to change at Salisbury and Scum Central, as opposed to the solitary change at Basingstoke, because in theory two changes or not I would get into Cosham a good half hour or more earlier...
Best laid plans and all they eh!
All was going fine until I got to Scum Central, then as if purposely done because I was a Pompey fan in the Scum area things went belly up! Having changed fine at Salisbury I arrived at Central to find my connecting 22:13 - Littlehampton was cancelled, no explanation or anything just cancelled, bloody trains, although not a First Great Western one for a change, a Southern Service one, which are said to be terrible anyway. Still, providing my Fareham connection, as it would be now - having decided to get back on the train I had literally just got off - was on time I would still get into Cosham 15 minutes earlier, so it was not a total write-off. That hope proved fruitless as the connecting train at Fareham was delayed too, so I got in a whole 2 minutes earlier than I would have having changed an extra time, technically twice. Hey ho...
Saturday arrived with the usual optimism that we cold get a result, and I really did think we could, and would, get something against Leeds.
Once again there was no pub visit as staying at my cousin's meant it was prevented this. We would again forgo a Monster Mick opting, as with the Hull game, to go for he chicken balti pie and drink combo. Once again a good choice, although this time unlike the Hull game I cannot say this was the highlight of the afternoon.
Today would be the first time I would see Tony and Jill in over a month, as they were back from the several week stay in Australia before, and during, Christmas - it was good to catch up.
Quite how we managed to only be 1-0 up at half time was beyond me as we had enough chances to have easily been 3-0 up at the break. Only the goal from Joel Ward, and what a goal, was all we had for our efforts. In typical Pompey fashion we tossed away the lad early in the 2nd half - despite Leeds contriving to gift John Utaka a goal to put us ahead again we once more allowed Leeds back, having to settle for a 2-2 draw in the end.
So, yet again Pompey's defensive frailties, and an inability to 'kill off' an opponent, cost us at Fratton as we let a lead slip, not once but twice. At least this time though we were not beaten. I say it 'cost us' although I completely enjoyed the game, I really did, lights going out an all - this felt like 'real football' again and all in all a draw 'probably' was fairest.
Steve Cotterill has praised the Ibrahima Sonko and Greg Halford defensive pairing and to be honest, in the 1st half at least when we had no pressure on us, I could not really disagree. I was not too sure when I saw them lining up together, but it worked, then again was this only due to the lack of pressure we were put under? The problem with Sonko is that he 'panics' and the more those around him panic the worse he gets, and once we concede a goal - which we are always likely to. A lot of the players do that and he 'freaks out', for lack of a better word.
With another game at Fratton coming up on the Tuesday it made little sense to travel back to Devon on the Sunday, as planned having previously booked a journey, so I just stayed in Cosham, well Whiteley on the Saturday, and then back to Cosham on the Sunday in preparation for the Burnley game.
All in all though, as said, I really enjoyed this game. The football, from both sides, was good, the entertainment value top class and the 'feel good' factor was felt. A real throwback to 'the old days', and I loved it! The lights going out, not once but twice, just seemed to add to it.
Of course it was disappointing that we could not have held on for the win although I do think that most would have happily settled for this before the game, our inability to defend cost us the 3pts again though. This would 'hopefully' be put right on the Tuesday against Eddie Howe's men...
PLAY UP POMPEY!