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Glensider At Pompey

2 - 0
Aston Villa

Fratton Park


Attendance: 20 388


Well we've had our fair share of the breaks when on our travels this season, so I don’t really think that we can complain too long and loud about the reversal at Fratton Park, a game in truth we should never have lost. I haven't seen or heard any official stats from the game, but we definitely had the bulk of the possession, more shots on goal, and probably at least twice as many corners. We didn't play badly, it was certainly an improvement on the efforts of Wednesday evening, but sadly, like it or not, this game that we all love so much, determines its winners and losers by the simple fact of which team manages to score, and which team doesn't. Points are not handed out for hard luck stories. So, at the end of the day, its hats off to Pompey, not only for being today's victors, but for also doing the double over us this season, something very few teams will be able to boast come the campaigns end.

It was wet and miserable as we arrived in Pompey, but the locals were totally in ignorance of the dreary climate, they are on their way to Wembley, and they want everybody and anybody to know all about it. The Pompey chimes were ringing out, creating a noisy atmosphere in the ground (it seems wrong to describe it as a stadium), even more intimidating than is per the norm. At least we travelling supporters have the luxury of a roof over our heads nowadays, a blessing indeed, particularly on days like this one.

It was very interesting to read pre-game Harry Redknapp's programme notes. Love him or loathe him (and for me it’s the former) you have to admire the job that he's done at Fratton Park. He wrote, 'I can only see the Premier League becoming stronger with each season. That leaves you needing to continually strengthen your squad to stay where you are, and hopefully improve as we have done. A couple of seasons ago we could well have slipped into the Championship. We bought to survive and then added more quality in each transfer window to be where we are today, in the top half of the table, and in the FA Cup semi-finals. It has been a remarkable turnaround'.

Indeed it has, and his sentiments are hopefully shared by MON this coming summer. We have done tremendously well since the RL/MON bandwagon rolled into town, we're definitely getting there, but we absolutely have to add to what we have in the shape of more quality and more depth. We cannot allow another transfer window to pass us by without the introduction of the type of talent to help us on to that next level. It would be inexcusable.

Right onto the game. One change, Olof in at right back for Craig Gardner, with Gabby deemed fit to take his place up front alongside Big JC.

We started brightly, the lads looking determined to put Wednesday's drab offering well and truly behind them. The travelling Villans meanwhile enjoying the opportunity to hurl abuse at every twist and turn made by one Milan Baros. Wonder why we singled him out for such attention?

David James smothered a shot from distance from the lively Shaun Maloney, then the keeper came off his line to deny Gabby who attempted to lift the ball over him.

Muntari wasted a Pompey opportunity with a poor free kick after Freddie had fouled Baros just outside the box, but then in their next attack of note, Defoe did what he loves doing, and does with increasing and annoying regularity, namely score against us. 1-0 Pompey! He finished with precision, getting on the end of a long ball from Glen Johnson (Defoe/Johnson - two players I wish so much were plying their trade at Brummagem B6), but questions surely have to be asked about Scotty Carson's decision to rush out from his goal? Very bad decision in my opinion, and it cost us dearly.

JC got a faint touch to another superbly flighted Ashley Young free kick, but England's, undisputed if you ask me, number one, made a superb fingertip save. I'll say here and now, that if we'd have had David James in our goal today, then we most certainly wouldn't have lost.

Goal number two for Harry's lads was as bizarre an own goal as you are ever likely to see, and I'm sorry, but once again I have to point the finger of blame at our on loan keeper.

A through pass found Defoe, and Scott Carson came off his line in an attempt to clear, yet succeeded only in kicking the ball against Nigel Reo-Coker, with the ball rebounding into an empty net. Farcical. A truly bizarre goal by any stretch of the imagination, with the ball rebounding fully 20-25 yards off of NRC into the empty net. Had Scott chosen to remain on his line, which I firmly believe he should have done, Freddie Bouma could well have shepherded Defoe away from the danger zone. But no, two errors, and we're undeservedly 2-0 down. Time for Stuart Taylor to get a run between the sticks I wonder?

Martin Laursen took a smack in the face from Baros, and it looked for a minute as though things were going to turn nasty, with Martin convinced that it was done deliberately, and then up the other end it was DJ to the Pompey rescue again, making a fine save from Ashley's goal-bound effort. 2-1 then and we'd have been well and truly back in it.

Into the second half, and Gabby made a complete mess of a Shaun Maloney cross, steering the ball wide of the gaping goal from five yards. Head in hands time.
Marlon came on for the unlucky Shaun Maloney, who I thought had enjoyed a decent game, and for spells we had plenty of possession without ever really creating too much. When we did, create that is, our forwards were way off target.

Carson continued to look really out of sorts, failing to hold onto Muntari's shot, but fortunately Defoe for once wasn't fully alert enough to take advantage. Up the other end though David James continued to impress, and it was getting pretty obvious to all that he wasn't going to be beaten by the efforts of his old club. He made another great save from a curling free kick from Ashley, and you just knew it wasn't going to be our day. Scotty, were you watching and learning?

Two sendings off in the last ten minutes, Muntari for them, Olof for us, but it wasn't a dirty game far from it. Muntari's dismissal was notable though because it came after he fouled Moustapha Salifou, the latters first real involvement of note since his arrival at Villa Park.

So, in summing up, I'd say we had enough of the possession, and enough opportunities to have won the game, even allowing for the very shaky performance from our keeper. We've lost our edge, no doubt about it, the sparkle was missing, and we need to get back on track, and quickly. I do think that maybe the time has come to give Stuart Taylor a run in goal. Carson just seems to be lacking in confidence. He certainly cost us today.

Well, its feet up time now. Time to kick back, take five, and enjoy a cold one or two. Been a long day, so I'm going to relax, and just think about what might have been, and what if. What if we'd have had David James in goal today....

Have yourselves a great week, don’t forget the youngsters in action on Wednesday evening, and then, bring on Sunderland!!

Date:Sunday March 16 2008
Time: 9:31AM

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Quality reporting as usual, at least the performance improved even if the result was a blow. I do agree that Carson is costing us too many points, I hope we don't get silly and buy him for the money talked about in the press, a couple of million maybe but nowhere near 10. Such a same James isn't still our boy, he'd have been a legend by now.
The Fear
16/03/2008 09:34:00
I like Pompey. If it's not us getting Europe then it should be them. Harry has bought well and has a group of players clearly able to talk to and guide younger players with a big brother/father figure type of role - this has been key to them luring Defoe/Johnson/Muntari, with messers Campbell, James and Kanu being pivotal in the aformentioned roles. (The massive wages help too!) I hope Barry, Laursen and Carew can offer this type of attraction in order that we get more players of the calibre of Young and higher. I really do hope this happens as our excellent small squad needs fattening up with more arrivals.
16/03/2008 09:58:00
I don't hate Carson and I won't blame him totally for the loss (Agbonlahor missed a sitter) but with him in goal, he just doesn't inspire much confidence. Going back a bit, when Bosnich was playing I felt we could take on anyone even though he had his mad moments. I also feel it is time to give Taylor a chance. When Carson got sent off, Taylor came on and saved a penalty.
16/03/2008 10:04:00
nice to see that you didnt think it was a "dirty game" - we played the same way against man u, and they were all saying that we were dangerous, and should have had 15 red cards each... Pompey havnt been playing well recently though. Birmingham had a lot of the possesion against us, so did you, and so did man u. we won all 3 games - ad scorred at home, a slight rareity for us - but it would still be nice to see us controll the game a little more. As far as europe is concerned, i (hope!) we can get into the UEFA cup through the FA cup. I think everton will most likely take 5th place, and we havnt entered the inter toto cup, so just so long as you finish above blackburn, west ham and spurs, you should be in europe with us!!!
16/03/2008 10:10:00
Good report Glensider. Pretty much agree with you about that. Disappointing and one man let down the team yesterday and that was our on loan goalkeeper. Please drop him Martin.
16/03/2008 11:07:00
really good read mate, i thought it was a really good game of football, played the vast majority of the time by 2 teams that really wanted to win it... we got a bit lucky at times, but jamo again was fantastic as he has been for the best part of 2 years for us - yep, spineless steve had you selected this keeper, even if only for the final qualifying game - im not blaming carson for that defeat to croatia, sure he was at fault but should never have been in that position - you would still be in a job and we wouldnt have a football free summer!
good luck for the rest of the season, i do like villa so as i said to a fella on the phone yesterday in an ideal world we will win the fa cup but you'll get into europe too, so long as we win the cup, even if you finish behind us if you finish ahead of blackburn and citeh you'll be in the inter two bob cup at worse wont you - good luck.
16/03/2008 11:40:00
Great report, shame about the result.
16/03/2008 13:59:00
get rid of carson before he ruins your chances of europe!
16/03/2008 18:25:00
Great read once again Mr Sider, Scotty Carson ... hmm, he reminds me of a keeper we once had who seemed to make a lot of flaps and gaffs but then turn out to be one exceptional keeper - David James. As many people are saying and i agree with them he's just not worth 10m, Cathie the pup said the same as your self Glensider this sunday morning (i think we should give Stuart Taylor a game) as we watched MOTD 2. Can someone please explain to me what the heck has got into Olaf Mellberg ? if any player was about to react like that then i would have put odds on it being Martin Laursen as it seemed that Milan Baros just got under his skin a little (tee hee). And as for Arry's views Glensider on the team he has built and the way he has done it ...... please post a copy of it to MO'N just as a reminder ! Well done Pompey. Now lets move onwards and upwards Villa.
16/03/2008 20:02:00
Great report Glensider. Agree with everything you've written. Seriously, thanks for the comments guys, appreciated I assure you, especially those from our Pompey visitors.
16/03/2008 21:01:00
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