Patrick Lay on the day out by the River Usk in Wales’ ‘3rd city’. Sat 17 Oct 2015: Newport County 0 Pompey 1.
Having seen us play at home twice this season (Dag/Red & Yeovil) our match at Newport was both my first away game of 2015-16 and the first time I’ve seen us play away to the Amber Army. It was club number 87 (or 86 depending how pernickety you want to be about Aldershot away last season) on my list of League grounds watching Pompey – just 5 short of joining ‘The 92 club’.
With all this is in mind, I had an added buzz for my trip to Wales (“We’re all going on a European tour” one could be forgiven for thinking) of which I set out from my Birmingham residence to meet fellow Pompey fans also based in my near vicinity (David Richardson & Rob Morris) at Barnt Green rail station at 9:30am where the former was picking me & Rob up in his car.
One of the reasons for an early start for a comparatively mere 96 miles from Brum was that Dave & Rob have mentioned about a really nice pub several miles outside of Newport called the Bridgend Inn that is run by Paul & Lynn (Lynn being a Pompey fan herself).
We got there about half 11 and after a couple of ciders that went down a treat, I found myself in good spirits as we rendezvoused with a selection of other Pompey fans (most notably John ‘PFC’ Westwood and his bus) at this fine venue in Pontnewynydd. It then got to about half 1 and it was time to drive down into Newport itself.
When we finally parked up in the Gwent shipyard city, it was time for a quick snack en route to Rodney Parade and (as pictured below) you can see me & Dave literally found one of the Deli Delights of Newport:-
On arriving inside the stadium, it was apparent how massive the game of Rugby is in the ‘Land of Song’ and not just because the football team’s interim measure for a long since demolished Somerton Park is to share with Newport Gwent Dragons. No, it was the fact that just 2000 had turned out to watch their local football club play as Wales Rugby World Cup match with South Africa took Centre stage on the day.
Well the 1000 or so Pompey fans who added to this gate along with myself were also in good spirit despite the majority of us being uncovered in a temporary marquee type stand – it’s amazing the difference (for all sorts of reasons) that a roof makes. I personally was expecting a scrappy game as the hosts are bottom of League 2 and with their new manager John Sheridan at the helm and our record in recent weeks I was expecting a draw.
[Photo: Official PFC/Joe Pepler]
In all honesty it was far from a classic encounter and the main talking point apart from our winner (which I will touch on in a minute) was the injury to match referee James Adcock. He was replaced out on the pitch by the 4th official Wayne Barratt an announcement the followed over the ground’s PA system for a replacement 4th official and it turned out that a fan called Mike Hurdle was qualified to cover the 4th official’s duties for the rest of the afternoon.
I may as well have seen a 0-0 draw as I (when will I ever learn) missed the unstoppable Matt Tubbs’ 1st half stoppage time winner as I made an early exit to avoid the half time queue to grab a Tea for me, Dave & Rob. “Oh it was a 40 yard ‘worldy’ mate” another Pompey fan teased me with as I made my way back to my seat. Well since watching the highlights, I can of course confirm that was not the case, but a fine bit of play by Kyle Bennett as he beat 2 players and passed through to Matt Tubbs saw our prolific marksman slot away his 6th goal of the season.
I did however get some nice pics inside the ground (oh and can’t forget the matchday programme):-
Well it may not have been the biggest spectacle, but did me or the travelling army mind how we got 3 more points on the road – oh no! All teams aspiring to win titles or get promotion will have games that are just about getting the job done, even all the fantastic football we played in our 2002-03 promotion to the Premier league season, there were still some dogged results we grinded out – there has to be.
Personally I was delighted (albeit missing the game’s solitary goal) that we had avoided coming unstuck in this game as although we were red hot favourites, we could so easily have slipped up under the circs.
Play Up Pompey and onto tomorrow night as former Fratton favourite from 12 years ago Teddy Sheringham returns to PO4, this time as the Stevenage manager.
…now for Paul Cook’s Blue & White Army to finally show their class on our own hallowed turf.
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