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Club News


21 December 2013

A look at today's opponents

Bristol Rovers entertain Portsmouth today for the first time since the Hampshire team won a Division One fixture on 10 April 1992. In what promises to be a thrilling pre-Christmas fixture a bumper crowd is expected to the Mem for what is traditionally a black Saturday for attendances.

Since being led to an FA Cup victory by Harry Redknapp just 5 years ago Pompey have struggled financially and that has resulted in failure to pay players, points deductions and subsequent relegations. 

Throughout all this turmoil the south coast team’s fans have been stoic. Whilst seeing near neighbours and bitter rivals Southampton establish themselves in the Premier League, Portsmouth are struggling for League survival.

With just 5 league victories this season Pompey find themselves having problems getting to grips with League Two football.

A 4-1 thrashing at home to Oxford on their opening fixture was an early sign of problems to come. Recently results have worsened and they have now gone six league games with just two draws to show for their endeavours.

On Saturday Portsmouth were undone in three second half minutes by Newport County. The Welsh team rode their luck during the first half with Patrick Agyemang's effort cleared off the line. Then on 64 minutes Michael Flynn’s left footed shot from the centre of the area rocketed into the top corner of the net for his first goal in over a year.   

Three minutes later he doubled the dose with a righted footed finish from the six yard box into the bottom left corner to give County a 2-0 win.

Talking after the game Portsmouth boss Richie Barker commented, "Speaking to people who've been here a while, they've pretty much said that sums up the season in 90 minutes, so we've got a lot of work to do. 

"At the minute it's probably too easy to score goals against us so we need to stop that very quickly. We're in a constant uphill battle so we need to prevent that very quickly and the only way we can do that is by working hard, constant hard work, constant training, trying to do the right things and hopefully people will buy in to what we're doing. 

"I'd have to say apart from the first 10 or 15 minutes I thought we were pretty much the best team. We had weathered the storm a little bit, we'd had some really good chances, we probably had the most shots - I don't know the statistics but probably had the most shots - but it's the same old story again."

Looking at the history of games between the clubs, in total there have been 28, with Pompey dominating, with 14 victories to Rovers 8. At home in 14 matches Rovers have 6 victories to Portsmouth’s 5.

The first time the teams met was on 12 February 1921 when Portsmouth won their home game 1-0, one week later the teams fought out a 2-2 draw at Eastville.

A most remarkable game took place on 6 February 1960 at Fratton Park in a Second Division game.  Two goals by Ron Saunders and others by Harry Harris and Reg Cutler gave the home team 4 goals. However doubles by Peter Hooper and Dai Ward along with an own goal by Ron Howells led to a 5-4 away win. 

On 13 November 1982 five Rovers’ players, David Williams, Ian Holloway, Tim Parkin, Aiden McCafferey and Archie Stephens were all on the score sheet in response to a Bill Rafferty goal for Pompey, to give Rovers a 5-1 win at Eastville.

One player hoping to get his place back in the Portsmouth team is 17 year-old Jack Whatmough. Pompey Academy boss Andy Awford said, “We all have to remember that Jack has only just turned 17 in August. 

"He did well in the games he played but he has also made mistakes. He is learning the game. Let’s face it, if he didn’t make any mistakes, he would be playing for Manchester United.

"But I like the fact that he wants to learn and he’s not the only one in the system at the moment that is coming through. There are some good players in our younger ranks. We need to make sure they are looked after and we nurture them properly.”

One player very unhappy with the level of performance of his team is keeper Trevor Carson, talking about the lack of leadership within the team he said, “Why can we not be leaders? We need to roll our sleeves up and maybe have a fight with each other.

"There are some big, strong players in the squad but we seem scared to fall out with each other which is nonsense. It's baffling," he added. "We were in control. We seem to drop our heads whenever we concede a goal. 

"It very rarely I've been beaten by a wonder-strike. Every goal has been preventable and that makes it even more frustrating. It shouldn't be difficult to keep our heads up. We just don't seem to have that player on the pitch who, whenever we concede a goal, can go up to someone and grab the lads. 

"The heads drop, the crowd get frustrated and it affects the lads. We have to be bigger than that. Why can we not be leaders? We need to roll our sleeves up and maybe have a fight with each other."
Written by Gerry Prewett.

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