In the end, Sacha Gaydamak 0 Sam Hammam 0 wasn’t the worst result in the world for us. It’s a point, away as well, and against a team that one could reasonably expect to be in the playoffs at worse this season.
Before I start, as you can guess from the usual lousy picture I was in the Fratton Park press box (for the Star and Express, says he blowing his own trumpet. The latter one taking up so much research time that it kiboshed the planned Friday SW19 update…).
And I, erm, forgot to make any notes for SW19. And I mean, “any”.
Fortunately, this game was on telly, so you can relive Wilson’s save, or Azeez’s I-think-I-will-take-this-on-myself brainfart yourself.
We did defend well though, which is what we’ve needed to do. Seeing Alan Reeves on the bench makes me think he’s having an influence. Not a major one yet, as we haven’t started scoring own goals.
That it’s now come at the expense at the other end is an ever-so-slight inconvenience, especially as in truth we didn’t really look likely to score yesterday.
Which is why I don’t think we’ll get in the playoffs. Yes, I know it’s tighter than a nun’s chuff up there, but the league table is a phoney war until about February.
Whether we’ll end up buying again in January I don’t know. I would hope we wouldn’t need to, but another striker (even if he’s on loan from the Cardiff kindergarten) may be on the cards.
Especially as Akinfenwa is going to get more less game time anyway, and Elliott just seems to get a stubbed toe whenever he doesn’t fancy it.
Still, it’s not a bad problem to have and maybe, just maybe, squad and manager are starting to fulfill their potential a bit more now.
It would be about time, if so. We now have a clear run from now until the end of the season – no cup distractions, and I don’t count the LSC in that, and a very real need to finally deliver.
If truth be told, we’ve underachieved since returning to the FL, and there’s only so many times you can hide behind the budget…
Plus points: We didn’t lose. Clean sheet. Good defensive performance. Nobody played too badly. Getting praise on Sky, apparently.
Minus points: We didn’t win.
The referee’s a…: Stuart Attwell. No further comment necessary.
Them: Bit like us really, only with a bit more up front (though that’s not saying a lot). Defend well, huff and puff a fair bit, but you can see why they’ve only won twice at home this season.
While it will never come close to what we suffered in 2002, it’s still gobsmacking that when we were beating Staines in that playoff final they were about to win the FA Cup.
And to be blunt, they shouldn’t be in League Two. They are, it’s pretty bloody obvious why, but even now it’s surreal to be facing them at this level.
But then, it’s a classic case of a club that has been in decay for too long. You just have to walk around Fratton Park itself to realise that – it needs flattening, basically, and has done ever since Fash made his debut there in 86.
True, their trust now owns about 51% of it (and sensibly, they’ve got about 11 or 12 “presidents” who own the other 49%, which means they don’t wring their fanbase dry like we’ve effectively done). And when they eventually go up, they’ll be in the Championship again before long.
Then again, how many “big clubs” can you name over the years who have ended up in the fourth division? Wolves spring to mind, ditto Swansea, and Sheffield Wednesday nearly dropped into it in the 70s.
And lest we forget, it wasn’t that long ago when Man Citeh were in the division above us…
Point to ponder: Was it me or could our turnout have been higher? Obviously being on Sunday, on telly and the trains apparently being a bit shit didn’t help. Plus many have said the view from the away end isn’t significantly better than ours.
Even so, it’s still not wonderful for a trip that is only 1h15 down the A3. Especially as we took about 1200 to Crawley and will probably take similar to Brisbane Road and Barnet.
And being a shithole isn’t always a factor – Luton and Pompey may fall into that category, but so does Gillingham and we always got four-figure turnouts there.
To be fair to us, we were quite vocal yesterday. Though there’s some irony in us singing “you’ve only got one song” to the locals…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) “Stand up if you hate ISIS”. One of those chants which will mean something more before long, if it hasn’t already. TBH I couldn’t make it out at first, which made me think it was aimed at Southampton. 2) Another minute silence, and another applaud-on-X-minutes happening. Know why it’s happened this weekend, but it does feel like they’re over-done now. Rate it’s going, the next one will be for somebody’s cat.
Anything else? Your editor was down the training ground last week, on professional duties (if you still have a copy of the pullout section in Saturday’s Sun, the Paul Robinson bit was my handywork).
It’s not my first visit on employment duties, I did the same thing for Azeez a couple of months ago, but there was a different vibe this time round.
And by “different”, I mean “better”.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, although I noticed there was a lot more jovial chatter about. One or two light hearted quips between players as well, which I didn’t notice beforehand.
When I first went, there was a bit of a quieter mood. Not surly, but it was more a case of everyone going through the motions a bit.
Which does make you wonder what’s changed. OK, as it stands we have 10 points from 12, which helps the mood a lot, but this was coming back off the FGR suckerpunch.
I still don’t think we’ve properly “clicked”, although we seem to be more of a unit these days – which reflects in the atmosphere on the training ground.
Have we had yet another clear-the-air meeting? If we have, then it might have finally had some effect, at least for now. Although of course you can have too many of those.
If we haven’t, then maybe it’s just a case of the penny dropping – that this squad (and manager) have realised they’d better start performing.
Games like yesterday help matters, although there’s always the danger that we slip back into the bad old ways. And I wouldn’t blame NA especially for having a more positive frame of mind this week.
Oh, he even decided to have a little impromptu chat with your editor last Thursday. Nothing untowards BTW, in fact I couldn’t remember what it was about, but at least he didn’t mention this place. Or those of you who comment under the articles…
So, was it worth it? Wasn’t too bad, I guess.
In a nutshell: Inwards and upwards.