There’s something extra satisfying about beating a team who are wearing red and white stripes, isn’t there? Even more satisfying when Pompey are so good the game can’t even be described as a contest. Even better when the match is over long before the half time whistle blows.
OK, we all want to experience the clammy excitement of a 5-4 thriller, but there’s nothing like the reassurance of a solid thrashing. Now 3-1 might not sound like a thrashing, but take it from me: Paul Cook’s men played a poor Accrington Stanley off the pitch in an imperious first half display. And they did it in style: playing fluid, confident, passing football.
There could have been more goals. Kyle Bennett and Gary Roberts were the Blues’ stand-out performers on the night, ghosting past Stanley players with graceful ease whenever they got a touch of the ball.
Naturally enough, Michael Doyle’s big dipper of a volley will deservedly linger in the memory for the several hundred Pompey fans lucky enough to have seen it, but the wily Bennett – in particular – deserves praise for his tireless inventiveness, not to mention his goal.
If the unthinkable happens and Pompey end up gestating in League Two for another season you must make a trip to Accrington’s tiny ‘Wham Stadium’ a priority. I don’t want to sound smug, but a trip to this corner of Lancashire really is one for the purist, with comic moments abounding.
Standing on the terrace with mug of Bovril in hand you can just about make out the people watching the game from the conservatory of their semi-detached house. “Conservatory?” I hear you ask. Yes, because one side of this ground would be considered low even for a cattle shed.
But it isn’t just the physical surrounds. In what is surely a self-conscious parody, the Wham stadium sound system belts out WHAM’s ‘Wake me up before you go go’ at the final whistle. In fact, the tinny PA system is a joy for any away fan looking for mirth after a long drive. Announcements of added time are proudly and grandiosely announced as being ‘sponsored by Cafe Brillianto’. I never made it to said establishment, but the many pubs around the ground certainly offer a good pint of local ale.
Amid the pleasure, there were a couple of points for concern. Yes, Pompey were superb but Accrington had nothing going forward, mustered about one effort on target all game, were just dreadful. Enda Stevens had a dire game at left back, even considering his usually high standards. And there was the obligatory late goal conceded by Pompey, once again wholly unnecessarily.
But by that stage it didn’t matter. The night belonged to the boys in blue and to Cook (who repeatedly pumped his fists towards the away fans as he left the pitch, the relief and the pleasure in the win very apparent). Actually, the travelling contingent played their own cruel part in Accrington’s defeat by remorselessly ribbing the home goalkeeper by imitating his barked instructions to his defenders. It was actually painful to see this at times: a young professional footballer reduced to stupid, clumsy errors by 600 or so boisterous away fans. But such is the nature of this crazy league: refereeing consistently awful and things you shouldn’t see in the professional game.
For long suffering Pompey fans the charm of discovering new points on the football map may have worn off, but there’s nothing like a Tuesday night away win at Accy Stanley (“who are they?”) to restore the faith.
Featured image: Official PFC.
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