Toast 6#27 - Bottom but a flicker of hope
Not many Pompey fans a few years ago would have thought they would celebrate a home draw with Carlisle. No slur at the club at the far northern output of the Football League but three years ago Pompey were a Premier League side and the celebrations on the final whistle were still understandable.
It is now twenty games without a win but the crowd have stayed with them and yesterday there perhaps just a flicker of a sign that Guy may have begun to put together a team of misfits and kids who are proud to wear the famous blue shirt. The game was a scrappy affair and after a mediocre first period Pompey conceded as usual but their heads refused to drop and cheered on by the home crowd fought back to earn a point.
The Carlisle goal was a stunner, not a 30 yard volley but clinically executed. Simon Eastwood made a superb one handed save from Noble. The corner was cleared and Lee Miller hit a beautiful through pass and found Rory Loy`s diagonal run and speed he rounded Eastwood and slid the ball home. The visitors had other chances after that but eventually Pompey began to force them back. Guy threw on John Akinde and Lam Walker for James Keene and Jed Wallace in an effort to shake things up and it worked.
This was no major transformation, as I said just a flicker, but watching Pompey all of a sudden became more of a pleasure again. Patrick Agyemang and Akinde as two very similar players but they were prepared to work like Trojans in an effort to create a chance and they succeeded as Agyemang but Akinde through only for him to be upended by the keeper. Stonewall penalty and up stepped Liam Walker to slam it into one corner with the keeper going the other way.
The man with the local family celebrated wildly in front of the Fratton end after such a cool finish by a man taking his first spot kick in League football; it was the finish of a veteran. So although the winless run goes on Pompey are now unbeaten in two!
Sam Sodje seems to fast be becoming a bit of a hero among the Fratton, launching himself at everything that come his way, winning crunching tackles and even trying some fancy stepovers.
Therry Racon also showed a few neat touches and was played in central midfield as Guy attempted to find some creation which Is sadly missing from the current crop of players.
From the vaults
The quality and quantity of Pompey`s away support has been a big talking point recently. Following comments from Chix and others that we should re-run stories the Toast team decided to look back through the annals and dug out an old story with interesting similarities to the current day.
A few years ago Pompey took nearly 600 fans to St James` Park for an evening game and we wrote about their bravery - into the valley of death rode the 600 and all that.
The Light Brigade - from Toast 2#37 May 2009
Now we don`t tend to concentrate too much time on classic poetry in the Toast office but the trip to Newcastle just got us thinking. After the number of visiting Pompey fans was counted at about 580 shall we round up to 600 the Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson came to mind.
For a start the first line is 'Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward' Well perhaps not half a league but seven very crucial points and come the end of May it could be a whole league.
The poem continues 'Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them` well Toon Boss Alan Shearer had asked to noise and for a short time he got it then for some strange reason the boom of the cannon turned to boos!
'Into the valley of death rode the 600` (well nearly) well hardly the valley of death as Pompey dug in and repulsed the home side before forcing them back into their own half and almost getting a famous victory.
The poem finishes 'Back from the mouth of Hell' which I assume refers to the rather obese and toneless opera singer and finally Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred! (well almost). Yes well done girls and boys for showing what real support is about and glad to say you all returned safely.
Ed - that game was covered live on a Monday night by the ill-fated Setanta Sport, there was a lot of criticism of their coverage elsewhere on Vital that week. The attendance at St James Park that night was 47,181- the Pompey fans making up 1.2%
A few days ago 280 went to Hartlepool. What a great response from the fans after nine successive defeats and about three seasons without a win to make a 650 mile round trip in midweek when all that was at stake was to avoid going bottom of Division Three! The crowd was just 3,526 - the visiting fans though this time represen ed almost 8%. No wonder lower league clubs welcome Pompeyt their o stadia.t
The irony is that both games finished 0-0!
Special thanks have to go to Havant and Waterlooville and Bognor for offering the use of their grounds Academy matches. It will also allow fans in those areas the chance to run the rule over the possible stars of the future something that in the past was not possible. Eastleigh while it has a number of Pompey fans is not exactly the hot-bed that both Havant and Bognor are.
All those benefits and as a bonus neither club will charge for the use of their facilities!! Thanks neighbours.
So from a nineteenth century poem to a 'popular` Aussie soap and now a classic fifties film based on a true WW2 story. That film starring Trevor Howard can be picked up on DVD for just a few pounds and is worth a look for all locals. The reason why is that the first session of the film is shot in and around Eastney Barracks - just around the corner!!
Well where the Marines were Corporal Punishment is now putting his troops through their training. The owners of the grounds have eventually agreed a deal with Pompey to use the ground in return for help with the pitches upkeep.
Pompey have of course trained in Eastney before and at present we do not know for how long it will be 'home`. But they are welcome and no doubt here will be a few craning their necks to get a few of Pompey`s group of kids and exiles.
Trevor Howard`s distant relation Brian has joined Bristol City this week and Darel Russell`s search was silverware has taken him to Toronto FC - just a trial at present. It does seem that players leaving Pompey are having real problems finding new employment at the moment. Lubo Michalik admits he is heading into the unknown after joining Kazakhstan outfit FA Kairat Almaty.
Michael Appleton may not have been every blues fans favourite for the manner in which he left Fratton Park but few would deny him his time in the spotlights after Blackburn`s win at Arsenal yesterday in the FA Cup fifth round.
That and Jordan Obita's (remember him?) goal for Oldham against Everton the Pompey magic may have just rubbed off on the FA Cup again!!