Isle of Wight   Pompey Supporters Club
The Chairman & Old Sage's View on Being a Pompey Supporter, Life & Everything Else  ...

  

Well, all in all not a lot to say about a thoroughly professional performance on Saturday. A goal that came out of pressure and another one that was quite sublime, both from fantastic crosses from Ronan Curtis. Coasted through the rest of the game with, I suspect, half an eye on tomorrow evening. Ah, the benefits of playing a settled side with no significant injuries or suspension problems. Nothing flashy, just solid. 

Next up is Charlton tomorrow evening...no excuses it looks like it’s going to be a dry cold evening with no significant wind...Hovertravel will have to come up with a really good excuse if they don’t run tomorrow night. This game should be a big test for us with Barnsley (a) and Sunderland to come. Our current form is unparalleled but we should have a very good idea by January 1st as to how the season is going to pan out for us. Two things I do know already and that that we won’t be relegated and we’re going to have to have a monumental loss of form to not make the play-offs! 

As Chairman, can I thank everyone who attended our Xmas Draw last Thursday evening. It was a good night with as many as 80 Members and our CEO and Johnny Moore over from PFC. A really good night. I’d like to thank Steve.L, who acted as promoter, and others who assisted on the night included Colin and Stu Watson whose looking for a sideline once he packs up with Open Reach! Rob assisted the MC with the actual draw and most of the prize winners were in the room on the night, which is great. Can I also thank those that sold tickets including Brian Yemm and Chris Dennett who sold something like £150’s worth between them.

Overall we made a modest profit and that will go towards our charitable donation at the end of the season.

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There was a time when your first experience of an evening game under the lights was really exciting, especially for youngsters. Not so much nowadays though particularly for Island fans who have to make a commitment and get around work commitments, school and travel difficulties to get over to Fratton. 

On his last visit to the Island Mark Catlin confirmed that mid-week games were no longer a significant ‘earner’ and that is why the EFL had been pressured into reducing the number of evening matches. That’s all very well but then you have to factor in three cup competitions, the ridiculous international breaks, earlier postponements and the weather you’re still likely to end up with half a dozen or more a season. 

The net result is lower gates and less revenue for the home club. A classic example was Tuesday night when there was an ‘official attendance’ of close to 17,000 but, as everyone knows, there were plenty of spaces, the take up for the new arrangements on the Milton End was poor and a mere 150 away fans (all credit to them) and that’s when we are top of the league! I’m thinking the actual gate was 2/3,000 less than that figure...you may or may not agree. 

Coming over from the Island makes it even more complicated, especially on Tuesday where we had gales and high winds running against the tide from late morning until early evening. There was much electronic discussion about whether the game would be played and whether we could even get over to the other side. A decision was taken on the 1815 hover as late as 1745. Fortunately the weather subsided and it was a comfortable crossing that ran on time with no ‘technical problems’...a term well known to the management of Hovertravel, Wightlink and Red Funnel!! 

Doubtless there were many here on the Island that weren’t able to go and even more who weren’t prepared to travel to Ryde only to see a cancellation or, worse still, get stuck on the other side with the prospect of the midnight car ferry as the only viable option and then the problem of getting home from Fishbourne at 0045. 

In the event we were fortunate and it worked out OK, we got over, got a drink or two, won the game and enjoyed the 30 minute wait for the coach back down to Southsea with Steve Cook talking us through the delays at Leicester due to VAR; how unlucky the Scummers had been during the 90 minutes and then them losing the penalty shoot-out...what a shame! Back on the Island an hour after the game ended and, me personally, back home in Newport by 11.00 even though I was hampered by following someone doing 30mph all the way home. Indoors, coffee/toast  and Sky Sports News to see a couple of scrappy goals but yet another win. 

Happy days 

PUP

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On and on and on and on....it goes! 

Another away victory and a home win with a clean sheet 72 hours later, top of the league, six points clear and a game in hand on some of the chasers...in terms of our amazing form and our league position I must be in dreamland, after all this is Pompey we’re talking about, isn’t it?!! 

The table never lies at the end of the season and I’m bound to say it rarely lies when you are close to half way through your fixtures and progressing in two out of the three cup competitions going into a busy December. That said, like many others, I still find it difficult to fully explain what is happening. 

Fair enough we have a larger better balanced squad than last season and it is now largely Jackett’s squad. We like to name the same team week in week out ... something that isn’t unreasonable when you keep winning! From a positive perspective we are very organised and, in my view, doubtless have the best defence in the league and some genuine flair and ability, at times, in terms of Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis.  

On top of that I wouldn’t say we are lucky but we certainly haven’t had any really bad luck in terms of disallowed goals or ‘iffy’ goals given against us or bad decisions by referees that have a significant effect from a disciplinary perspective or injury to key players. Put all that together and combine it with the mediocre quality of perhaps the majority of the other clubs in the league then you begin to understand why we’ve lost one league game all season and on 44 points. 

As a lifelong Pompey fan I make no apologies for taking, more often than not, a more pessimistic viewpoint as my glass is nearly always half empty and that is why I still find it difficult to fully appreciate what has happened so far in the campaign. Without taking away the contribution made by new arrivals in Naylor, Brown, Curtis and Thompson (smaller version) we still find it difficult to ‘see off’ opponents and, at times, this is very frustrating (and, you have to say, somewhat predictable). When we are good, we are very good but you rarely see that through a whole 90 minutes and that is why our defence has become key to our success to date. Apart from Plymouth and Oxford you couldn’t say we’ve exactly taken ‘anyone to the cleaners’. We are in effect currently a very successful workmanlike side. Another factor is although we are 19 games in we are yet to play Sunderland, Barnsley or Charlton. 

I think we’ve done enough to be cautiously optimistic and that is supported by the bookies who have us 2/1 on favourites to be promoted and 2/1 against favourites to go up as champions. From a statistical point of view 50 points is normally enough to keep you up (just TWO more wins) and a little bit more than 70 points to get you a play-off spot. There a big tests to come but the biggest test may come in the next transfer window when, with the Championship in mind, we have to decide on further investment and/or holding onto our most valuable assets, especially Matt Clarke. 

Onwards and upwards. 

TOMORROW. A typical evening game for Island fans.

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Please note that the views expressed in this column are my personal views not those of IOWPS



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