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Pompey Finally Win!
Crewe Alexandra 1 Portsmouth 2
After 134 days and 2070 minutes of painful football, Portsmouth Football Club has finally ended their long winless run with a deserved victory over Crewe Alexandra.
Having witnessed so many lacklustre performances on the road, nobody could have prepared the travelling Pompey fans for the events at Gresty Road yesterday.
The first half was the best 45 minutes of football I have seen from a Portsmouth team since the thrashing of Peterborough at London Road last season.
The front two of Patrick Agyemang and David Connolly were outstanding. The former got onto the scoresheet just six minutes into the match when he brilliantly held the ball in the box and the defender trying to mark him before turning to strike the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
The visiting fans were joyous in disbelief having not been used to watching score away from home, let alone take the lead but the scoreline may have been doubled as Agyemang again used his strength to create a chance for Gabor Gyepes who fired over the crossbar.
Johnny Ertl has taken a lot of criticism from the Pompey fans this season but he absolutely bossed the midfield. He broke up virtually every Crewe attack and was instrumental in creating chances, including the one that led to the second goal.
His combination with Agyemang saw the Ghanian strike at goal from an angle and the loose ball fell to Connolly who blasted it into the net to send the Pompey fans ballistic.
The only criticism any fan could have had of the first half performance was that Pompey didn't finish Alex off. Gyepes should have headed in Dan Butler's corner whilst Jed Wallace hit the side netting when played through by Ertl who had done the hard work of taking the ball past two Crewe defenders.
During this season a pattern has developed where Pompey can only play well for one half of a football match and again that was the case at Crewe as the hosts upped their game in the second half and the influential Connolly had been withdrawn.
The Railwaymen started to create chances but the defence, Rocha in particular, kept producing last ditch blocks to stop them from scoring.
However, Crewe did get one back after a scramble in the box led to Byron Moore's shot being well saved by Simon Eastwood only for the ball to come to Mathias Pogba who smashed the ball home from all of two yards to set the stage for a tense last half hour for the blues.
Crewe kept coming forward but Pompey got bodies in the way with Eastwood only having to make one good save from AJ Leitch-Smith.
Substitute Adam Reed almost sealed the victory in a rare Portsmouth attacking move when his shot hit the post but the travelling fans were made to keep biting their fingernails as time slowly ticked away.
The cynics in the crowd were convinced that an equaliser was on its away. Crewe had a free kick from a dangerous position but that was wasted as the ball went for a corner.
The hearts were in the mouths again as Kelvin Mellor's shot from that corner was goalbound but Butler was on the line to clear the ball as the fourth official signalled four minutes of stoppage time.
It would seem like Pompey would see that out by keeping the ball in the corner but there was time for one last Crewe attack. The ball was deflected out for a corner but there was no time to take it as referee Geoff Eltringham blew the full time whistle to confirm Pompey's first win since October 20th.
The utter relief and joy from the Pompey players was there for all to see and the fans reacted as if their team had just won the league, let alone won a game of football.
Players and fans embraced and although one or two fans were taken away by the stewards for entering the pitch the vast majority raced to the front of the stand to congratulate the team on finally ending the wretched winless streak. It truly was one of those "I was there" moments.
The win was deserved in the end. The second half was a battle but for once the defence looked like a unit rather than four individuals. The midfield has the right balance to it, marshalled by the superb Ertl and it was no surprise that Pompey dropped off in the second half when Connolly was taken off and could not longer link with Agyemang.
Hopefully this result can now be built on. 485 Pompey fans were there to see their team win yesterday and so hopefully 10,000 of them can witness another victory when Bury come to Fratton Park next weekend.
Play Up Pompey!
Pompey Player Ratings
Simon Eastwood: 6 - A couple of nervy moments but no massive errors.
Yassin Moutaouakil: 6 - Supported the attack on occasion.
Ricardo Rocha: 7 - Made some crucial blocks.
Gabor Gyepes: 7 - Won most of the headers.
Dan Butler: 8 - Best performance in a Pompey shirt.
Jed Wallace: 6 - Probably should have scored.
Therry Racon: 7 - Good foil for Ertl, did a lot of running.
Johnny Ertl: 9 - Completely bossed the midfield.
Liam Walker: 7 - Linked up with attack well.
Patrick Agyemang: 9 - Unplayable for most of the game.
David Connolly: 8 - Worked extremely well in tandem with strike partner.
Adam Reed (Walker 76): N/A - Almost scored.
John Akinde (Agyemang 87): N/A - Helped get the ball into the corner late on.
James Keene (Connolly 46): 6 - Loan spell ends with an average showing.
Source: Fratton Faithful
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