Portsmouth 0-1 Millwall ~ Match Report

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The Bonemobile was fired up and ready for the short journey down the A3 to the beleaguered and embattled former naval stronghold of Portsmouth. The football team and club in general have not shown the same hearts of oak as their naval counterparts though.

Their precarious disposition is all self inflicted with mismanagement rife throughout the club, it is surely only a matter of time before this once famous club is subjected to a full on reality check and left to ply their trade in lower echelons of the football league pyramid.

I am usually on the side of any team going into receivership; fuck me, we all know the stigma attached to this and the ramifications but Portsmouth have seemingly tipped the first time round complete bollocks, choosing to ignore the fact that they were hopelessly in debt and just carrying on regardless as if nothing was amiss.

So if they want sympathy from me they know where they can look; in the dictionary somewhere between shit and syphilis, I believe is the correct stance.

All that money going into their coffers when they were in the Promised Land did at least garner one useful thing and that is the roof over the away end. The amateurish poles supporting though meant you had to get a decent position sorted out or else you were dodging your head from side to side like a manic metronome for ninety minutes.

The food was top draw though (but they ran out of hot stuff just before the mass rush at half time) and the coffee was more than barely drinkable so we settled down to see what Mr Jackett was putting on offer in the way of formation and players.

There was one significant change from the winning side at home to Hull, Barron taking the left flank instead of Bouazza so we lined up as follows; Taylor in goal, Craig, Robbo, Lowry, and Smith across the back line, Barron, Abdou, Wright and Henry as the middle four with the good ol’ double ‘K’ strike force of Kane and Keogh to pester the life out of the Pompey defence.

Referee Halsey got the game going as the sunny day turned into quite a fearsomely cold evening but at least a thousand Millwall fans were there to roar the Lions on for a precious three points on offer against our relegation rivals. We started off slowly but surely, with the back four doing a sterling job, Craig in particular was tested on a few occasions down the left but he was more than a match for what Pompey had on offer.

It took us about ten minutes to start progressing our attack with Kane and Keogh causing havoc in the Portsmouth box, the former getting his head to a ball that went narrowly wide. It was Kane again with the next chance with a blistering drive that Pompey ‘keeper Ashdown did well to get down and save.

We had a bit of a flutter shortly after that when we fell asleep at a corner but the firm header from Halford did not bother Taylor in the Millwall goal.

We responded well enough with Barron hitting a decent shot that was just too straight and Ashdown smothered it.

The midfield central partnership of Abdou and Wright does look promising. Abdou doing his usual pestering role balances nicely with Wright’s more cultured approach and with Henry operating on the right and Barron staying on the left (unlike the wandering Bouazza) the outlets were always available for the industrious pair.

The overexcited home fans, happy clappy personified, were starting to get a bit mildly obstreperous so it was good to see the wit and wisdom of the Millwall fans hadn’t deserted us as taunts regarding the home side fiscal predicaments bounded about like confetti, “you’re Portsmouth til July” and “Harry’s got your money” particular hitting a chord with the bewildered home fans.

What really shut the dribbling cretins up though happened with about 5 or 6 minutes of the half remaining. We intercepted the ball halfway inside their half and some quick thinking and quick feet from Keogh got the ball to Kane who managed to find enough space to let fly a daisy cutter of a shot that had Ashdown well beaten down to his right. 0-1! We went mental. It seemed like a defining moment in our God awful season and it came just at the right time. It silenced the boisterous bell ringing, drum beating numbnut home fans and it took the wind out of the Pompey players sails.

We finished the half in supreme command, looking dangerous every time we got the ball and Lowry was a gnat’s cock away from doubling the lead on the stroke of half time with a fabulous drive from distance that beat Ashdown but just lifted over the bar after the ball had been half cleared from another devilishly quick in swinging corner from Henry.

The half time whistle sounded soon after and the applause and nods of approval were all coming from the away end.


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The second half started in a bit of a cloud burst as the rain came down with a vengeance, the temperature dropped another couple of degrees and we were suddenly back in mid winter but it didn’t stop the lads giving it their all out on the pitch as proverbial sleeves were rolled up and the team dug in deep for what seemed like the longest 45 minutes since the semi final at Old Trafford.

Portsmouth had to give it a go, no doubt about that so we had to defend for long spells but we did so admirably and with the seemingly rejuvenated Maik Taylor we had a ‘keeper full of confidence and ability that positively oozed measure and control into our back four as we dealt with everything the home side could muster.

We still had our moments though and with Kane and Keogh always ready to terrorise the Portsmouth rear guard the second goal for us was never far from the thoughts of Pompey.

Taylor was in superb form and his finger tipped save from a dipping effort was well received by the lions fans but Taylor tried to convince the ref he never touched the ball and in fact it should’ve been a goal kick, not a corner showed the man has got the MIllwall spirit firing in his blood already.

AS the clocked ticked down they threw all they had left at us but I am afraid they were always found wanting and we looked the superior side throughout. Even in the dying embers of the match a beautifully agile save from Taylor veritably capped the night’s proceedings perfectly.

At the final whistle, the players celebrated like the fans, fists pumping, voices roaring approval, they knew as well as we did what this victory meant and no one was begrudging them the chance to let off some steam and join in with the euphoria pouring out from the travelling contingent.

It was a proper team performance, as well, there were no passengers, no one taking anything for granted, it was passion, commitment, controlled and quite emotional. 100 years ago the Titanic set sail from Southampton and promptly hit an iceberg and sank to bottom of the ocean. It looks like we might’ve been the proverbial iceberg for Portsmouth because they are almost sunk as well and like the Titanic, they may well survive as a wreck but all who are sailing in her are basically fucked.

We, of course, are not mathematically safe yet but I’ll leave that fact to the mathematicians. As far as I am concerned, we are home and hosed and this away win means that we have leap frogged up to the heady heights of 18th place and that is, believe it or not, a great place to be with just four games left to play.

Leicester at home on Saturday and I see no reason for another win now. The confidence is there, the ability has always been there so bring it on now, we have no real pressure on us so let’s get out there and enjoy it for once and cheer the boys home so that the mathematicians can put down their pencils, close their logarithm books, pocket their slide rules and take the batteries out of their bloody calculators because we don’t care anymore this season!

See you all there!!

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