GOLDIE has flown home from last night’s tussle on the south coast, unhappy with the Palace performance but knowing that Portsmouth as a club are in far worse shape
There is a roof on the away end at Fratton Park these days. What more could you want?Trouble is, it seems that Portsmouth are going to struggle to keep the metaphorical roof over the head of the club.
Palace and Pompey have had much in common of late. Both sets of fans have endured off-the-field turmoil leading to on-the-field distress, culminating in financial administration and a team lodged in the wrong part of the Championship table.
While Palace are now financially sound, if not splashing the cash like Man City, Portsmouth’s plight is more frightening. Walking into Fratton Park last night, and despite wanting Palace to take all three points, one could not help feeling a collective sense of “We know how you feel, pal.”
A look at Portsmouth’s recent history is alarming. How can a community’s football club be treated like a game of pass the parcel among foreign owners? How did some of these owners ever pass the Premier League’s “Fit and Proper Person” test?
What might be the test questions?
- Do you know the club’s nickname?
- Can you point to Portsmouth on a map?
- Who are the club’s heroes?
- Do you ever intend to visit Britain?
- Have you got some money?
Answer just one of the above, the final one, with a “Yes”, whether truthfully or not, and there you have it, ownership of a top-flight club.
If you can find a word other than “pathetic” to describe the chain of events that have allowed Portsmouth to be sold on so many times to such questionable characters, then please let us know.
The mood among Palace fans pre-game last night was split. Many had labelled the game as a “must win”.
“We’ve gotta beat them tonight, they are tumbling, if we are gonna win an away game, it’ll be here,” was a consensus view.
As far as I was concerned, the game was more of a “must not lose”: given that we had just beaten Sheffield United, four points from six would seem like a good return for a struggling side. A single point certainly would not have advanced Portsmouth’s prospects at our expense.
On the subject of the Sheffield United game, despite whatever Micky Adams may peddle, that really was a proper six-pointer.
Palace have now not conceded in 12 hours at home. The goal that won it was fit to win any footballing contest.
Ambrose, again distinctly average for large portions of the game, won his case for being left on the pitch with a simply sublime effort from outside the box. Anyone who hasn’t got around to seeing this strike yet, I suggest you do so (here’s a YouTube clip recorded off someone’s telly); it is a lesson in technique and control. The goal scorer’s relief and sheer delight was plain to see as he celebrated in front of a frenzied Holmesdale Road end.
The victory at Selhurst on Saturday was also Kagisha Dikgacoi’s Palace debut following a loan move from Fulham. Many a fan has stressed the need for more bite in the middle and it was refreshing to see the South African international show glimpses of what he may offer when match fit. Having played only once at Fulham under Mark Hughes, perhaps there will be a future for “KG” at Selhurst?
Anyway, back to the trip to the south coast. The games now come thick and fast and memories of a vital win are expelled as fans wonder if Danns and Marrow are fit to play. Danns is in the team, Marrow doesn’t make it. KG and David Wright in a three-man midfield indicate Freedman sees the game as one where if we don’t concede, then maybe we could nick one the break.
This wasn’t to be.
Last weekend’s rather grim game of football in some ways reflected the ageing state of Selhurst. Likewise, the football on Tuesday night reflected the state of Fratton Park. It was not a pretty sight.
By half-time, and Pompey had shaded it. With little else to talk about, in the away end we found ourselves once again questioning why we could not purchase a beer in the stadium. And for many, we needed an overpriced slightly warm plastic bottle of lager to help to erase the memory of another rather abject half of football.
The second half was, sadly, much the same as the first. Two pretty poor sides clearly worrying about defeat hindering a more cavalier attitude to attack. Ambrose was the difference last week, for 89 minutes anonymous, but for 10 seconds genius in a bland game.
In this contest, the sides were to be split by a lucky goal, as Dave Nugent drilled an effort into the ground and over helpless Speroni’s outstretched arm. Somewhere up in the directors’ box, someone was muttering, “We should have signed him when we had the chance.”
All is not lost, we are unbeatable at home (everything is crossed that we can maintain that record) and we are, mathematically, harder to beat. There are worse squads in the division than us, but that is not how the league table works. Key players must perform, not just for 10 seconds, or even 10 minutes, but consistently.
Scunthorpe are now three points behind us with two games in hand. Sheffield United are in freefall. Preston have got worse, year-on-year, and must be down. I guarantee we will stay up.
One thing is for certain: 1,500 travelled to Pompey last night knowing we have the worst away record in the Championship. We deserved better than that.