Pompey In 'Away Win' Shocker

Last updated : 11 September 2005 By Keith Allman

The joys of following your team away from home.

It feels like you're throwing your money down a bottomless pit. Tickets, petrol, food, drink - and seemingly all at a vastly inflated price, especially if you have the misfortune to stumble into a motorway service station. And

Food poisoning next exit
that's without even mentioning the football itself; game after game of heavy defeats, of last minute defeats, of boring defeats (the key part here being "defeats"). Time after sorry time of walking away from weird grounds in weird cities, getting laughed at by the home fans with weird accents and staring on the floor as you get lost on your way back to the dodgy "secure" backstreet car park you paid a fiver to get let in to, but still took down your "Lee Mills For England" Pompey sticker just because you didn't trust the scallywag with the baseball bat standing by the entrance. Early starts, late nights, traffic jams, idiots who put their fog lights on when it gets a bit rainy, delayed trains, cramped coaches - all part of away travel.

But most importantly, defeats and a big blow to the "goals against" tally.

And then, every so often, something great happens. Something that we've only known four times before today in the last couple of years. Your team travels to someone elses ground and escapes out of the back door with three points. And guess what! That's what we did today! As if you didn't know.

The first half today - and especially the first half hour - I thought we were absolutely brilliant. We played some of the most exciting and slick passing stuff I've seen us string together in a long while and it was a miracle we didn't go in a goal or two to the good; we certainly had our fair share of chances.

Some jam
But what worried me is that this was Everton. The Jammiest Team In The Premiership (tm). Not only were they bound to hit us on the break or with a set piece, both of which they tried at some point in the first half, but they seemed to have bribed the referee a treat too which didn't help matters. Needless to say I won't go into my big angry rant about the officials and an absolutely ridiculous offside decision that they ignored when our whole defence was holding a line to play Bent off, only for the ball to be played to Arteta - BUT FOR CHRIST'S SAKE, IF THE DEFENCE ARE HOLDING BACK BECAUSE OF BENT WHO IS IN AN OFFSIDE POSITION, SURELY HE HAS TO BE INTERFERING WITH PLAY! HOW CAN HE NOT BE! JUST BECAUSE THE BALL DOESN'T GO TO HIM, THE FACT OUR DEFENDERS WERE ALL LOITERING, LOOKING AT HIM AND WAITING FOR THE BALL TO GO TO HIM SURELY MEANS HE'S AFFECTED THEIR GAME SO MUST BE INTERFERING!

Yeah, like I said, won't get into an angry rant about that one.

Still this was a day where the standard order of things took a back seat. We won away, after all, and since the space time continuum was experiencing a glitch in that respect the usual way of the universe completely collapsed in on itself. Because, dear reader, a football team - in this case us - actually got a lucky break at Goodison Park for the first time since 1895. It's often said that "Big" Duncan Ferguson is a danger in the air, usually in reference to his elbowing prowess but also his ability to head the football. So it proved after Robert whipped in a corner and he rose, Carl Tiler-esque, to deliver a bullet into the top corner.

Cheers Dunc. That's for the 93rd minute winner, for Rooney not getting sent off, for Rooney's ear-cupping antics and your niggly boring long ball victories. Not that I'm bitter.

Even at 1-0 up it still seemed unlikely that the strange other-worldly turn of events could possibly continue. "I'd still take a draw" lied many, myself included, knowing that in reality three points would be really rather nice

Lev Yashin
indeed. At first it was flashbacks to Man City; go a goal up early in the second half, try and camp out on the six yard line for the rest of the game and then lose anyway. But credit to our defence who stuck to their task like absolute machines, repelling all that came their way. The midfield duo of Diao and Hughes struck up an instant rapport and smothered all enemy attacks, providing a barrier against the Everton pressure which increased as time ticked down. And at the heart of matters and a clear contender for man of the match was Jamie Ashdown, who made a string of fine saves. I've given him a bit of stick on here in the past but today he made me eat by words and showed he was up for the fight of regaining the starting spot full time. Even so you can't help but spare a thought for Sander Westerveld, who will hopefully also ride to the challenge - no doubt pride stung being dropped before a chance to clash heads with the arch-rivals of one of his old sides, Liverpool.

As if half an hour of nail biting heart attack inducing pain wasn't enough after our goal, the board for four minutes sent the majority of the crowd into a vicious flashback to last January where we managed to successfully shoot ourselves in the foot with seconds left on the clock. But again, not so, this wasn't like Pompey of old. With a bit of luck, a bit of skill and crucially a bit of calmness, it wasn't long before there were thirty seconds left on the clock and Vukic and Viafara were passing it between each other in front of the nearly-celebrating Pompey fans. Final whistle and everyone is happy, nay, delighted.

My special mentions go to;
Ashdown - Athletic, committed, dependable; an all-round brilliant display.
Diao - For a lad making his debut and supposedly suffering with injury he played fantastically, striking up a good relationship with Hughes. Much promise in this one.
LuaLua - Struck absolute fear and borderline terror into the hearts of Everton. What's more he seemed to have his "Team" head on today; none of this sulking by the touchline and wanting to play keepy-uppy he was at his creative best; never selfish and always looking for the right pass whereas previously he'd just have a shot for the hell of it. If not for Ashdown, surely man of the match.

Token Karadas photo
In fairness, it would be harsh to single out one player after this performance. The defence were as solid as you would hope; Dejan his typical reliable self, Priske impressing more and more by the week, Vignal still hard in the tackle and bombing up the left wing with worryingly regularity and O'Brien doing what he does best - subtle but effective defending. The midfield two of Hughes and Diao, as mentioned, absolutely ran the show - were Davies and Kilbane on the pitch? Up front, there's huge hope for Silva - he faded in the second half but seems to have a good touch, a poacher's instinct and with a bit of match practice should be a great signing. Hell, even the oft-maligned Karadas did a good job holding up the ball when he came on late.

Suffice to say the journey home seemed to be a mighty quick one tonight. Well done to the lads, a fantastic display at a ground that's a difficult place to go. If you wanted to find one possible negative it would still be the goalscoring issue - the chances we created versus the chances we scored, and the fact it took an own goal - but I've seen enough this season to know we're going to create, and enough to believe that we've got the players here who will get us the goals.

A real confidence booster and just what this club needed after a week where there's been a lot of doom and gloom, and the papers have been preparing their memorial service for Alain Perrin.