Toast 6#24 - winless run continues
Giant Hartlepool stopper Scott Flinders broke Pompey hearts yesterday when he made a string of fine early saves at Pompey started brightly. They then conceded the usual dead ball goal and all was over.
Pool made a return to Fratton Park after more than thirty three years to play a side in Pompey they have never beaten. In fact there have only been two previous meetings at the Park and Pool had lost them both back in the Fourth Division days.
Guy made seven changes to the side that lost at Walsall, most enforced as players had left. There were debuts for Adam Reed and second debuts for James Keene and Shaun Cooper. Youngsters Dan Butler and Jed Wallace made their first league starts. Guy also sprang a surprise by sending out a 3-5-2 formation which I thought was a real surprise considering the lack of experience in the side and surely a standard 4-4-2 was better however.
In the first scrappy half Flinders made fine stops from David Connolly and Darel Russell and then Russell headed wide of a gaping net from the resulting corner. With that Pool took the ball down the other end Cooper was punished for a push and the inswinging free kick was headed home by an unmarked Jack Baldwin.
That completely knocked Pompey out of their stride and their oh so brittle confidence suffered again. Connolly chased everything but the five man midfield could create nothing. The second half started no better and Poole broke the offside trap drew Eastwood and scored. Guy had had enough - he was not the only one in the ground - and made three change sending on Ashley Harris, Frankie Sutherland and Yassin Moutaouakil for Cooper, Reed and Ertl.
The change had an immediate effect as Moutaouakil got away down the right and from the cross as Keene set up Wallace to score from an acute angle. Sadly only a Connolly effort that went inches wide would threaten an equaliser and deep in injury time Butler slipped and let in sub Rutherford to add to Pompey`s misery.
So we now go on to Tuesday night when Notts County visit. Can we win that one? Yes with a little change Pompey luck we can. Pompey could have been 2-0 up at the break yesterday but their old frailties returned to haunt them. Why am I so optimistic? Because some of the new recruits showed promise and with the right service into the channels Connolly and Keene can score goals.
Just three long years ago we beat Liverpool at Fratton Park yesterday we lost to Hartlepool - how times change.
It`s a date
Scunny await. Pompey will now visit Glanford Park on Tuesday, February 5 (7.45pm kick-off). Frantic couple of weeks ahead.
The News ran a piece in the week about the big freeze of 1963 - bit late Toast looked back last week! In it they highlighted April saying 'As for the league - during one spell in April they played three games in four days. That included matches against Norwich in successive days - home and away - with Pompey losing both.`
For the information of the erstwhile journalists at the local rag, there is nothing unusual about three games in four day over Easter. Regularly Pompey would play Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Monday - with two of the games against the same opposition. This happened during both Championship seasons - in 1948/49 we played Birmingham twice and Wolves and the next year Fulham twice and West Brom.
Shortage of offers
So Mussy Dumbuya has ended up at Crawley allowing Shaun Cooper to come home.
Where are the other eleven released this month? At the time of writing Paul Benson is still at Swindon with Paulo trying to move him on. Meanwhile John Harley, Brian Howard and Lee Williamson are still unattached and unlikely to find clubs until the window shuts.
It is a very sad state the game is in with players of that quality (although they did not show it at Pompey) as unemployed.
Yes Shaun is back and brings to three the number of ex youth products who have returned this season - James Keane and Jack Compton being the other two.
Made his Pompey debut at Palace in March 2002 and in total made seven appearances that term. He eventually slipped from favour and went on loan a couple of times before joining Bournemouth where he was a fixture in the side for six seasons.
He has never played on the winning side for Pompey - mind you can you name a current player who has?
Cap on away tickets
The Football Supporters` Federation is calling for a ceiling on the price of tickets for away games of just £20. Its bid to tackle high ticket prices was sparked when Manchester City fans protested at being charged £62 a ticket for a Premier League match at Arsenal on 13 January. City in fact returned 900 of their allocation and City fans carried a banner "£62 - where will it stop?"
FSF deputy chairman Martin O'Hara said 'Without away fans, the atmosphere at games dies and football loses a large part of what makes it so special. Travelling supporters spend the most time and money on their team and that deserves recognition and reward.
In the short term, clubs might make a few extra quid by squeezing away fans dry but long-term vision is required.'
I am pretty sure any fan who has travelled to away games will support this move wholeheartedly and let`s all hope this campaign will gather support around the entire country.
So Guy and Andy have loaded the van and moved out of the Wellington Sports Ground in Eastleigh. Shame from my point of view as working in the railway town I did pick up some useful snippets of info (Kanu`s flip flops etc.) and met a few of the staff but training back in Pompey makes much more sense and will forge a relationship with the fans.
All we want to know now is where will the new facility be? Looks like Eastney barracks might be the favourite with the University back in the frame too after receiving much criticism from their initial rejection. Eastleigh to Eastney has a familiar ring to me as I do it every day!!
The 31st January will have been ringed on most Pompey fans calendars now for some time - that is of course if they kept those calendars. That is the date when the High Court MUST rule on the clubs future. Either allow the ground to be sold to the fans Trust or enforce liquidation. There must be no more prevarication! We are suffering death by a thousand cuts and it is beginning to much for us all to bear.
That is clear by the way fans are fighting amongst themselves as has been the case in the forum recently. We all need something to bite on and knowing what the future holds, whether we like it or not, is essential.
The club still has the support of the fans, nearly 11,000 paying to see the Pool match between the bottom two in League One proves that. But the interest is now fast waning away from most and that has to be halted - somehow.