Reflections on Scunthorpe win
Once again it might not have been 'pretty' but we ground out, what was in effect, an 'ugly' win against Scunthorpe last night.
The win, a 5th successive win and also a 5th successive cleansheet - I believe this is the first time we have won 5 games on the spin with cleansheets in all since 1993, keeps our run going and the March to safety is nearly done.
Steve Cotterill admits that it was not 'sensational' but we got the job done: 'we weren't sensational out there, but I'm pleased with the scoreline. The pitch was a bit bobbly, and that didn't help against a team who were going to put 10 men behind the ball with two centre-halves like lamp-posts.
'It was difficult to get around them and get some speed into our play, and you end up knocking balls long which go down their throat.
'We could have played better in the first half, but at half-time we managed to settle the lads down a little bit and start again, and thankfully we scored two good goals.'
We certainly were much better in the 2nd half and did start knocking the ball around more instead of hoofing it long from the back, and that too also made a difference.
Making some driving runs forward, from a deeper position, also meant Scunny had to amend their defensive wall slightly and we eventually got the rewards.
These rewards were long-range goals from Dave Kitson, who battled well to create a chance and finished neatly, and Aaron Mokoena, who saw an effort deflected in - I am not convinced that this would have been on target otherwise, but what the hell it went in!
Our MAIN AIM this season was to avoid relegation, I think we can 'pretty safely' now say that priority no.1 is complete, right?
Now, with a dozen games to go, coming off the back of 5 straight wins - the first time we have done this since our title winning season in 2002/03 - and a cleansheet record stretching back 504 minutes, Cotterill is starting to aim a little higher...
A place in the top half of the table is what he wants, although he now admits that following this run a late surge to the play-off places is being thought of: 'it would be a nice omen, wouldn't it? We're quite enjoying the run we're on at the moment, and hopefully we can keep it going.
'We're not getting carried away, but we're looking up the table.
'You have to set your targets high. And if we don't make it but still finish in the top half, what a good season that's still been for Portsmouth Football Club.
'A lot of teams as equally as big as us would give their right arm to be where we are. So all credit to the lads. I'm pleased with them and pleased for them.'
So, we are 7pts off the play-offs with a 'decent' run in to come, you never know!
'If' we can beat Sheff United on Saturday, Bristol City away next Tuesday and then Boro at Fratton the Saturday after - all of which is possible - then it becomes very tasty and the game against Leicester at the end of the month takes on a whole new level of importance.
But hey, lets not get too carried away - survival has been the priority this season, that is virtually secured now, so on that score it is job done.
We are not playing brilliantly but we are picking up wins, and that my friends is what we had to do.
Wins breed confidence, speaking of which the confidence that a solid looking, and constantly picked, back four is giving the whole team cannot be underrated. What a difference this is making.
We have won some games ugly in recent weeks, in an ideal world with the threat of relegation just about gone we can start churning out some top class performances to go with results - then again it is a 'results based business' so is it better to play well and lose or have patches of good play, but overall be bad, and win?
From a paying punters point of view you want to be entertained, but sometimes needs must - as said with these needs survived hopefully with some pressure relieved we can see some of the free flowing football we have sometimes seen this season return, but without too much problem to the defence. Maybe I am being greedy!
Anyway, bring on The Blades! Lets put them to the sword and hope that they do not put us to it...
PLAY UP POMPEY!