Date:Monday December 19 2011
El Clasicoast might not have lived up to expectation although the important thing was that we did not lose and the 1-1 draw against Scum at Fratton ensures that 'bragging right' remain on the Blue side of the south coast until April, at least.
Although our unbeaten run against them at Fratton, stretching back to 1984, will remain until sometime next season at the very least - well unless we manage promotion when they fall away...
Appy, experiencing the type of derby that few others can replicate, so early into his managerial reign at Fratton admits as much - about the 'spectacle' of the game - but was happy to come away with a point and keep the momentum that we have built going: 'when you go behind in such a big game you've got to be happy with a point.
'It keeps the momentum with four games unbeaten and hopefully we can continue to climb the league.
'It wasn't a great spectacle - the two teams cancelled each other out. I talked to the players beforehand about staying in games, and that's what we did and got our reward with the equaliser. I think the players showed some strong mental qualities to do that.'
The first half of the 1st half was not great and if anything we defended far too deep and almost invited pressure on ourselves - you could argue that the set-up that Appy went with did not help, then again on the other side of the coin that set-up 'probably' was geared more at offering a better defensive shield to the fullbacks?
This point that I raise is something that he also touched upon and was the reasoning for Liam Lawrence coming back into the side as a starter: 'I think Liam gives us a little bit more discipline. Erik gives us more going forward, but that has to be balanced by what we lose defensively when he plays.
'I told Liam to go out and run himself into the ground, and that's what he did for an hour, by which time his legs were understandably heavy.
'I'm just delighted that he's fit again and suffered no recurrence of his injury.'
We certainly grew into the second half of the 1st half and shaded that just about I reckon.
I have to admit that when Scum did take the lead through Rickie Lambert I 'feared' the worse and maybe part of me thought 'at least it will only be 1-0'...
In all honesty I did not see where an equaliser would come from but what better person to get this than the local boy Joel Ward, and it was obvious to him how much that meant!
He certainly milked it for all he could at the end: 'Southampton will be disappointed by the way they conceded their goal, a bit like we were disappointed with the way we conceded ours, because we've been working on defending those kind of set-pieces all week.
'I'm sure Joel, being a local lad, appreciated scoring that goal. We gave him a bit of stick afterwards because he was so long out on the pitch taking the applause after the game that he was the last one back in dressing room by a long way.'
Appy, which I really like about the guy, was brutally honest with what we did not do right and I would much rather he did this than 'gloss over' things and roll out the usual tripe after games: 'it was a fantastic atmosphere, but sometimes games like this get so built up that the players forget to play.
'There were times during the game where we were playing at the same pace when he had the ball as when we didn't have it. I felt we needed a bit more composure on the ball. I would have liked us to create more chances, too, but it's still another point on the board.
'I joked with the lads afterwards that now this game is over I don't want to hear the word Southampton mentioned for the next couple of months. I want us to concentrate on us climbing the league.'
All in all I think that a point apiece, and a 1-1 draw, was probably a fair result.
Neither side were really able to point towards being completely dominant with few clear-cut chances really created - the only real save of note coming from Stephen Henderson when the score was 0-1.
I really did think that we could win, but had a point been offered to me - dare I say any of us - before the game it would have been taken with few questions asked!
Now to build on this 'mini' unbeaten run with the festive games away at Millwall and Leicester...
A final note on the atmosphere though!
As you would expect it went 'flat' for a few minutes after Scum scored but overall it was awesome, how it 'used' to be regularly and if only we could get it to that week-in-week-out again eh...
We did Portsmouth Football Club proud and this has been commented on by a few people I have spoken to so far, Trina's old man today said to me that the atmosphere came across brilliantly with the 'language' that the BBC could not filter out also highly amusing.
Whilst we, the fans, are not enough alone to save this club if someone was looking on and they had deep enough pockets to once and for all bail this club out and get us on an even keel, without 'fleecing us', then they need look no further than this game to realise just what PFC means to us.
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Date:Monday December 19 2011
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