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From my seat: Portsmouth (H)

By Ken Buckley :  09/05/2010 :  Comments (13) :

Last game of the season that was strangled at birth saw us produce a goal of immense proportion at the death. With results from elsewhere reinforcing the view that we have had a season that produced a disastrous start that some attached the dreaded ‘R’ word to and ended in what evoked thoughts of ‘Couda, Shouda but Didnae.

The game started in fine fashion for the Blues and within the first 10mins we had at least 5 chances to take the lead and leave Pompey and their ardent fans, some in fancy dress, with the prospect of a drubbing. First Hibbert burst through but Rocha turned the ball behind then Arteta’s dangerous cross was headed behind. Baines tried another cross that Saha headed over when well placed.

Big Vic then had a little run and put in Arteta just 12yds out but his shot resembled a pass back, considering he is such a good penalty taker I thought the net should have bulged from that chance. Hibbert who was in fine form then got himself in the box with some delightful play and crossed for Rodwell to head tamely to the keeper. It could have been 5-0 with more clinical finishing but on that 10-min mark Pompey got a free kick and Utaka curled just over and remind the Blues that profligacy on their part could spoil the party.

The game then settled into one where Pompey were content for the Blues to play neat passing football until it reached the 18yd box then all routes were closed down much to the annoyance of the full house assembled as we seemed incapable of threading through anything meaningful. Howard saved well from Piquionne after he had left Jags for dead and at the other end Arteta fired wide from the edge of the box then after more good work from Hibbert who found Rodwell in the area only for him to disappoint and side-foot wide. Just on half time Big Vic fired one into the side netting.

Half-time and the highlights were the ribald chants and self depreciating humour of the visiting fans, who, though small in number were out-singing and out-cheering the vast home faithful. The biggest cheers of that day so far were for the Everton Ladies who paraded the women’s FA cup they had won v Arsenal. Did the ladies captain look a dead ringer for Rob Earnshaw??

The second half started and was more soporific than the first and the first meaningful action came from the manager when he replaced Rodwell with the Yak after just 10mins. The Yak was straight into it and tested the keeper by shooting straight at him. We continued with the pretty stuff up until the 18yd box and then running out of ideas mainly due to the tempo being far to slow.

Then our defence got in a terrible tangle. Jags was all at sea, Distin slipped but recovered to block a shot with the rebound going to Pompey sub O’Hara who’s scuffed shot found a Pompey forward who slammed it into the net and dejected groans turned to cheers with the sight of a linesman flagging offside. From my seat that was harsh, no let’s not beat around the bush, it was wrong.

Just ten minutes remaining and what should have been a party in the sunshine was turning into a wake but Osman hit a long-ranger that was deflected for a corner. The corner was met by a very ineffectual Saha but cleared from the line to more groans. Then the excellent Hibbert burst forward yet again and blasted inches over.

The board went up showing 4mins added and would you believe there were audible groans from the faithful suggesting they had seen enough! Heitinga was on to his very own chant and in one tackle he roused the crowd then with time almost up he found Bilyaletdinov, who was on for Big Vic, at the angle of the 18yd box right hand side. He controlled right foot then hit a screamer left foot into the angle of bar and post leaving the keeper comprehensively beaten and net almost ripped off. The din was deafening and the whole mood changed as Pompey kicked off so the Ref. blew for time and the loudest ‘if yer know yer ‘istory’ was bellowed out.

It was then time for the parade of Players, Babies, toddlers and staff to tour the pitch in recognition of the part the fans play. Distin showed a nice touch by going over to his former devotees and giving them ‘thumbs up’ a gesture that was well received.

Overall not the greatest of spectacles despite the neat joined up stuff on display from the Blues but it was just not augmented by a quicker tempo that could and should have hurt Pompey much more and pleased the faithful with a thumping win.

MotM was easy for me, Tony Hibbert. On this form you would put him in the top four right-backs in the Prem. and a good shout for the World cup squad. I really hope the lad can take this form forward to the next campaign.

The Bilyaletdinov goal will live in the memory for a long time to come and must be a contender for goal of the season, again I hope he can come good next term. One thing I took from this game was the fact we really do need a striker who can put himself about and score goals. The performance of Saha and to a slightly lesser degree the Yak illuminated the fact.

My tit-bit from the weekend's papers sees the manager closing in on signing 19 years old, 6ft 4ins Togo born German U20 international Peniel Kokou Mlapa. Altogether now ‘There’s only one Pen............’

Have a good summer

Reader Comments

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Marcus Choo
1   Posted 10/05/2010 at 07:20:49

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Nice read Ken! I thought Bily hit it first time though...

Super goal. Feeling more optimistic about next season...
Dave Wilson
2   Posted 10/05/2010 at 07:39:06

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Ken; You do an incredible job for TW readers who can't get to the game.

I`m lucky, I can get to the games, but there`s still two more things I like to do after every match. One is watch it again on football first, the other is to read how Ken Buckley saw it. I stopped reading inaccurate newspaper match reports a long time ago. You`ll do for me.

You don't see things that didn't happen, nor do you pretend not to see things that did. It's nice to know that, whenever I can't get to a game, I can still get a balanced honest trustworthy account of what's gone on. Come back next season.

Ciarán McGlone
3   Posted 10/05/2010 at 09:02:03

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"Last game of the season that was strangled at birth "


Cracking line Ken!

Good work.
Alan Kirwin
4   Posted 10/05/2010 at 10:15:15

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Totally agree on the striker front, Ken. Saha has drifted. Yak may come good again after a full pre-season, but we're empty up there.

We need someone with pace, strength and an eye for goal. Oh yes, Wayne Rooney!
Chris Stubbs
5   Posted 10/05/2010 at 10:10:25

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Here in Taiwan, we get starved of games on the TV to watch. Ken's reports bring things to life. It's almost like being there or seeing matches as they really were. Sometimes, we get treated to games in which Everton are featured, but only when the opposition is one of the Sky Four. Ken's reports are great for us exiles. There is hope for us Taiwanese exiles.

There is a pub here called the Brass Monkey. They seem to be able to screen many games other than those involving the Sky Four. The pub gets a feed from a South African sports channel. So, next season, if anyone is visiting Taipei, head to the Brass Monkey. I will be there. You can't miss me as I am the only one there wearing an Everton shirt (and perhaps the only one in the pub ever to have been to the home ground of the team I support).

Keith Glazzard
6   Posted 10/05/2010 at 11:47:13

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Thanks for the season's 'work' Ken – although I can recognise a labour of love when I see one.

How do you account for what's happened to Tony Hibbert? He seems to have played much the same game for many seasons, and then suddenly he is – to use a phrase — like a new player! And it couldn't happen to a nicer lad.

Bily's breath-taking goal (better than his against ManU?) was not only the last in the PL this season but surely up among the best. Let's hope that he – and Hibbo –- can stride confidently into 2010-11
David Thomas
7   Posted 10/05/2010 at 12:22:09

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Great report Ken,

Pretty much exactly how i saw the game. I personally would have given man of the match to Distin yesterday though. He seems to have come through his rough patch and ended the season strongly.
Michael Kidd
8   Posted 10/05/2010 at 16:25:38

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Thanks again, Ken, for a great report. The world has changed greatly since I first started supporting Everton, when one had to wait for the Sunday paper for a result and league table (scorers? What that) and now we can get most of the games here (South Africa) on TV, delayed if not live. But whether I've watched the game or not, it's always a treat to read your pieces. Have a good break!
Joe McMahon
9   Posted 10/05/2010 at 20:26:59

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Ken, I look forward to your reports every week. Can I take this opportunity to say thanks. Due to my lack of spare finances I can't get to games very often, your reports along with matchday reports beat any media shit coverage (what little we get).
Bob Parrington
10   Posted 11/05/2010 at 06:49:50

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Thanks Ken. This is the first game I have missed conpletely, even replays. So.......... straight to your report.

Thanks to all the respondents who make these columns so entertaining. I'm lookin' forward to next season. Let's hope we can find ther right striker and a Donovan to give us a fast and wide right.

Ian Smitham
11   Posted 11/05/2010 at 23:41:12

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Ken, As seems to be the universal view, thanks for the reports. As others have said, one of the highlights of the game is waiting to read your review, just to check I saw things in the way others do.

All are well written and thought out and I hope that you continue into the next season.
Christopher Arellano
12   Posted 14/05/2010 at 22:45:08

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Dear Ken,

Thanks for the great, great reports. Don't ever think they are not appreciated...

You and Paul T do an outstanding job and if there were a Champion's League Trophy for best match reports, you'd both them.
Michael Evans
13   Posted 15/05/2010 at 08:09:34

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Many thanks — you do a great job!

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