Date:Tuesday September 18 2012
Not since the heady days of Jan Age Fjortoft making aeroplane impressions around the County Ground has Swindon rolling into town been considered a 'big game'.
Over 12,000 turned up on a Tuesday evening, which goes to show that in League One we are still a 'big club', and those 12,000 helped create a pretty decent atmosphere throughout.
It was easy to see right from the off why Swindon were given the tag of "favourites". Slick passing, with diagonal balls crossing the field with accuracy. I haven't seen that sort of quality in League One so far. It was a pleasure to watch, even if it was the opposition.
Pompey rode their luck in the first half. Andersen made a string of fine, and some fortunate, saves. Balls were hacked off the line too. Swindon could have easily made more of it & put us to the sword, but we deserve some luck.
It would, however, be very unfair to suggest that the first half was all about Swindon. After 20 mins or so Pompey started to play football. Ok, so not to the standard of Swindon, but Swindon have had time to gel, to build a team - Pompey are still a team of rag-tag free transfers hastily cobbled together. There were periods in the first half where Pompey were giving every bit as much as they were taking.
Just before half time Ritchie scored a goal that Andersen really should have done better with. Beaten at his near post. But Ritchie, with the level of class which his left foot oozes, didn't celebrate against his old club & received a generous hand from the football savvy Fratton end. I'm gutted that we didn't keep that young man. He probably would have gone in the recent mass clearout anyway, but it was short-sighted by Cotterill if you ask me.
Back to the match... It was a fair scoreline at half-time, and one of the most enjoyable 45 minutes of football I have seen in League One - end-to-end, albeit more ours than theirs.
Second half started slowly for Pompey. We didn't seem to come out with any of the energy that we had in the first half. Swindon dominated possession & Pompey really offered very little. It was, therefore, inevitable that Swindon would increase their lead & they did. It was a goal from the top drawer. Williamson was beaten easily on the right & Williams took the ball to the byline before doubling back & slotting into the Pompey net.
Game over? Well not quite. In the last 10 - 15 minutes Pompey turned on the style. It was a pulsating period where we did everything but score. McLeod, much maligned by all (including me) came to life. He went on a mazy run and almost got what he deserved but for a block. Swindon were now riding their luck with balls cleared off the line & their keeper making decent saves.
Pompey's efforts were rewarded with a Michalik goal on 92 mins.
However, it proved to be too little, too late. That said, in that last 10 - 15 mins we really could have rescued the day.
So Pompey lost again. But was it as bad as Oldham or Walsall? Absolutely not. This was (except for minutes 46 to about 75) actually entertaining football played amidst a good atmosphere. We had 10 attempts on goal vs Swindon's 13.
Pompey showed signs of quality play but still lack the final 10% that would turn some of these chances into goals & points.
Men of the match:
- Andersen for a string of very good saves that kept the match alive
- Ritchie for his classy non-celebration & wonderful crossing
- Di Canio for being so animated on the touchline - almost as entertaining as the football!
Onwards & upwards. Play up Pompey!
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Date:Tuesday September 18 2012
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