Pompey triumph over Fulham
Just over 6,000 came to see off Linvoy Primus is in his testimonial/friendly against Fulham. I myself took all three of my boys for the game, 1 comes every week anyway, the middle son has litle interest in football but likes burgers, and the youngest was 5 last week, he loves playing the game but has a limited attention span!
I sat in the unfamiliar North stand lower after buying my tickets on the day, this was easily done with queues small at the ticket office. It was a sign of the recent demise at Fratton that the marquee was absent once more.
It was row BB for me, for those unfamiliar with the seating arrangements in the North stand, that is second row from the touchline, probably the closest I have sat/stood since the days of the running track round the perimeter.
Pompey were led out by Marc Wilson on the day, a surprise face in the line up was that of John McUtaka who is supposedly Rangers bound, hopefully no scouts were present! Sonko lined up at centre back with Wilson with Mullins at right back and Matt Ritchie filling in at left back, a few square pegs squeezing into round holes for their manager. Midfield saw Brown, Hughes and Smith accompanied by Linvoy, upfront were McUtaka and Nugent to test out the Fulham rearguard.
Fulham themselves fielded a decent enough side in their last friendly, all will figure this season in the Premiership, so it was to be a good marker for how we will fare this season.
The first 12 minutes were all played at a very much a 'friendly' pace, the ball was played gently around and tackles were more of the block variety rather than crunching, this first few minutes also saw Linvoy leave the pitch for the last time, his every touch was treated as though it was mercurical, a true legend really had retired, loyalty and passion like his is hard to replace.
Kanu came on in midfield for Linvoy, this was a position I hated him in last season, but this display was anything to go by, the old legs are still good enough for an hour in the Championship, I just don't know if he is in contract!
Pompey were the main attacking threat in the half, Nugent had a half hit shot gathered in by Schwarzer, Utaka glanced a header well wide from one of a sucession of quality Ritchie centres, and then on half an hour was the Nigerian's big chance, Kanu blocked a Schwarzer clearance and the ball fell to Scottish footballs big hope, the goal gaped, he steadied himself, he shot, he missed. Some things never change.
Not to be denied though, Pompey had a corner which was delivered with aplomb by Ritchie once more, Wilson rose and powered home, we were in front and I was halfway up the stand taking a 9 year old to the toilet!
The second half saw Ashdown prove his worth, he denied Zamora a couple of times befor blocking from Eddie Johnson, he also handled well from dangerous crosses, maybe Paddy's time has come?
The usual revolving door of substitutes that you associate with a friendly match occured, Fulham were able to bring on the likes of Greening, Dempsey and Riise, while Pompey themselves were confined to promising youngsters like Peter Gregory, Pack Cifti and Ellis Martin, but another to come on was our Golden Goose Boateng, he has seemed outward bound for weeks now, but with a move still not forthcoming he donned the royal blue once more.
The match played out tamely enough, no injuries was key, and Pompey picked up another tin-pot along the way, we were presented with the 'Kappa' trophy, presumably because Fulham share our kit supplier and we won!
David Lampitt then took to the field, he presented Linvoy with a Salver and then the greater honour of announcing that the Milton end will be re-named 'The Linvoy Primus stand' a fitting tribute to a great man.
So, we got a look at what pompey's limited squad will have to ffer this season, if yesterday was a benchmark, we will play football on the deck, Wilson will up his stock in a lower division, Kanu may tease less testing opponents a'la Prosinecki with his close control, Matt Ritchie may just fill the void left since Matt Taylor departed for Bolton, Sonko looks solid enough but prone to the odd error, Ashdown will be dependable, and on the bench we have 'promising' youngsters, Nugent will be full of running, miss some sitters and score some beauties.
Pompey's rollercoaster ride will be one of some great highs, and some horrible lows, our Manager is the right man, so, are we ready for another season of turmoil and backs to the wall? You bet'cha!