The latest in our series of fan blogs sees Mark Keyte debut with his reflection of the trip to Bristol Rovers. 

Hi my name is Mark Keyte and a season ticket holder at Fratton Park. Now I have hit the big forty, I said yes to doing the blog. The views are all my own, others will have their own opinions.

The Bristol game was a new experience, as we travelled by coach, instead of car, the last time it happened was when we had the Scummers. The journey itself wasn’t too bad, but the near four-hour journey was a bit of a pain, the last leg taking nearly an hour, due to the traffic.

Grounds like this I don’t mind, it’s a bit of a throw back to the Seventies. A no frills stadium, but a perfectly fine playing surface, where both teams can try and play football.

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My view for the game. I could bore you about food and drink, but the only the thing that matters is the game. But the pasties were good!

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The players warming up, with the old school watering system, football back at its roots.

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New on loan keeper before kick off. Was hoping for a 2-0 but not so sure now. Always feel it’s hard to be in that position, coming in a few days before your first game.

The game started fairly brightly for both sides, perhaps Pompey being more edgy at the back. The first time this season, someone tweeted me that the Morecambe game was similar. But Morecambe was good offensively, as today it was more Pompey’s mistakes than Rovers ability causing problems.

Clearly we had more ability, but the concentration wasn’t there. However Evans was, as seconds into the game, the referee had words.

I would like to single out a player, currently not a fans favourite. Kyle Bennett, in time I have no doubt this will change. Perhaps he set the bar too high in his first game? There is no knocking his work ethic and bundles of energy; he gives his all, and is definitely committed to the cause but he may be trying too hard, strange as it may seem. But like I said, football is about opinions. The both above combined fantastically for the first goal, a great cross by Bennett, headed crisply into the corner by Evans.

I also tweeted very early in the game about Chaplin, saying “I didn’t think he would be on for much longer” Wasn’t sure if it was his injury? But he just didn’t seem himself. Confidence plays a huge part of their performance, and at a young age too. There is no doubting his ability, with other clubs scouting, a move in the future would be no surprise. As football is easier the further up the leagues you go, more time on the ball, the freedom, ability to play, less crunching tackles of which I’m sure Conor will take pleasure from.

After our goal, we were troubled on a few occasions, but were thwarted by our keeper. We had our chances too, Bennett with a deflected shot into their keeper’s arms. Just before half time McCarey made an important block at the near post. But in truth we played in patches, many misplaced passes. Yet what mattered was the scoreline. We were winning. My nephew Calum pictured below, at half time.

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The second half Rovers started brightly straight from kick off, lots of pressure and attacking football. Which put us on the back foot. And in turn saw the equaliser, which they deserved.

It gave them hope, fire back in their bellies. A belief they could go on and win. Something us Pompey fans haven’t had for a few years, until now.

In Paul Cook the ethos has changed, we are fitter, a basic and essential attribute that any football team must have if they wish to be successful, the last few managers never grasped. Organisation, confidence, energy, team cohesion and adaptability.

And a gem of a player, in Gary Roberts. Before his introduction there were a couple of penalty shouts, mainly from the fans, the second Chaplin being given a yellow card. I would have been gutted if we had conceded those, especially if a ref would have been conned into giving them. To have that option on the bench is fantastic. I’ve always looked at the subs bench first, looking at options, tactically, and match winners. And yesterday was no different. He was the game changer, that touch of class, natural talent that you cant teach. He lifted the team, gave them that swagger, that confidence and belief which they had lacked. They seemed to retain possession more, looked a more attacking threat. This was clear when Davies sent a fine ball into Stockley who got his studs onto the ball, which rolled into the net. Get in 2-1.

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From then on we were in the ascendency, keeping the ball more with plenty more opportunities to score. Bennett was through on goal, perhaps thinking too heavily on winning the fans over shot, when really a square pass was easier. Hit the ball over the bar into the portoloos pictured below.

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In the dying minutes we retained the ball so well, restricting them any possession and wasting time. This was clearly apparent when Naismith was on the floor, and Cook came over and had a quiet word in his ear, Naismith leapt to his feet.

Overall it was a good win, end-to-end game. But definitely the best team won. The man of the match for me was Barton, a solid game, and more playing time, will certainly improve. I don’t think it will be long before we batter a team, 5 or 6. The longer this team plays together the more it will improve. Winning the league will be certainty and not a dream. Keeping the belief and positivity will be the fans responsibility and the players will surely benefit and perform, as I know they are capable off. Here’s to a bright future for Pompey.

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Get in touch on Twitter @PompeyNewsNow or via email pompeynewsnow@gmail.com if you would like to share your blog or fancy covering a game this season.

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