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Result: Portsmouth 1 Walsall 2 (HT 0-0) Scorer: McLeod (69 mins)
League 1 Fixture Attendance 11,767
Pompey: Anderson, Dumbuya, Harley, Long, Thompson, Wiliamson, Howard, McLeod, Rodgers, Russell, Harris. Subs: Eastwood, Walker, Compton, Clifford, Ertl, Michalik, Webster.
Report from the News
PHOTO: Luke Rodgers in action against Walsall
Pompey still wait on their first home league win of the season after they went down 2-1 to Walsall at Fratton Park today.
Second-half goals from James Baxendale and former Blue Florent Cuvelier gave the visitors the initiative in a game Pompey dominated for long spells.
And although Izale McLeod gave the Fratton faithful hope, an equaliser failed to materialise.
In fact, it was the visitors who looked the more likely to score, with substitute Will Grigg seeing his effort from 25 yards smack against Mikkel Anderson’s crossbar.
Pompey will feel hard-done by with the result, having enjoyed more of the possession in the first half.
They could easily have led going into the break but Luke Rodgers, Darel Russell and Lee Williamson all failed to make the most of chances presented to them.
Pompey picked up where they left off in the second half but were stunned by two long-range efforts which handed the Saddlers the advantage.
McLeod reduced their advantage on 69 minutes, but Pompey were left wanting in their attempts to force an equaliser.
Walsall extended their unbeaten record in League One to five games with a win at Portsmouth.
The Saddlers opened the scoring after James Baxendale's long-range piledriver found the top right corner of the net.
The visitors doubled their lead when Florent Cuvelier side-footed home from the edge of the area after Pompey failed to clear a free-kick.
Portsmouth pulled one back when Izale Mcleod's left-footed strike from inside the area found the top left corner.
Another demoralising defeat
Pompey slumped to another sickening home defeat, this time 2 long range efforts cancelled out McLeod's solitary effort, what will rankle with the fans though is the way Pompey went down, creating little and not seeming urgent enough for an equaliser.
This season is starting to take on big parralels with the last three, a team thrown together is struggling to get points on the board as the try and gel, trouble is, we all know how 2 of those 3 season panned out!
Yesterday had a bizarre feel to it, the game was played under what I felt was a flat atmosphere, I think the off field shaningans have well and truly knocked the the stuffing out of all fans now, until our ownership issues are sorted, I honestly think even the most optimistic fan is going to travel to a game full of beans and excited at the prospect of urging on his side.
All the talk on the message boards was how we were going to win this one, even the Walsall fans seemed to be hoping for no more than a draw, but if Pompey start slowly and uninspiringly, the fans soon see the dark clouds gathering once more.
Ashley Harris got the start everyone was crying out for, Dumbuya also returned after his long, fruitless trip to Sierra Leone.
The first half was as flat as last nights beer, plenty of Pompey possesion with no real openings created, in fact the highlight was a great reaction save from Andersen to keep us level.
The second half saw McLeod force at least a save from Grof in the Walsall goal, the loose ball being hacked clear off the line.
Walsall soon took the lead though, Hemmings made the most of some lazy defending from Dumbuya to tee up Baxendale who gave Andersen no chance from distance.
Ex-trainee Cuvelier who was head and shoulders above any other player on the pitch doubled the lead, from a similar distance he finished smartly with composure through a packed penalty area.
Pompey were at last sparked into some sort of life, McLeod responding with a good finish of his own, a ball broke to him from 20 yards and he placed nicely in a corner.
Pompey huffed and they puffed, but could find no further way through, a couple of weak headers was the best they could muster, although Jack Compton deserves note for at least providing some genuine width for the first time, if there was to be another goal, it was Walsall who almost grabbed it, Pompey gave up possesion with another loose pass and Paterson smashed the crossbar, again from around the 25 yard mark, maybe a pointer to where we are going wrong?
Star Player McLeod probably had his best game so far, it was probably no more than a 7/10 performance, but that shows how low the performance was on a whole, Izale looks like he maybe this seasons scapegoat, but if averages 3 goals every 5 games like he is, I'll take that.
Read more: http://www.portsmouth.vitalfootball.co.uk/matchrep.asp?a=293481#ixzz26iPaD8s6
"They scored two good goals in terms of shots from outside the box but I didn't think we did enough to win the game."
"You're always uphill if you concede the first goal.
"I thought they ran harder, ran faster than us and probably deserved to win the game because of that."
On the ownership situation:
"Hopefully it will be done and dusted soon because it's been dragging on now. There's been so many deadlines I don't know where we are."
Pompey 1 Walsall 2: A VIEW FROM THE STANDS Posted by Ben Hardinge ⋅ September 16, 2012
Walsall took all three points at Fratton Park on Saturday afternoon after a disappointing display by Michael Appleton’s men.
The game started off at a good pace with both teams creating chances early on. Walsall had their chances mainly created from sloppy passes between the Pompey defenders. Ashley Harris was the spark in Pompey’s attractive play, after being given the nod to start, with many good link-up runs and passes with the strike force of Izzy McLeod and Luke Rodgers.
Darel Russell was a key player in the early exchanges with his ability to break down attacks from the Saddlers, and putting in some pretty strong tackles to bring some confidence around the midfield area.
Sadly Kevin Long didn’t last the first half and was taken off through injury, only to be replaced by Liam Walker, shifting Russell into the centre of defence. This left a lot of space for Walsall in the centre of the park.
The teams went off at half-time with a score of 0-0, with the Pompey fans feeling buoyant after a relatively strong first-half – it looked like we may pick up a point.
Half-Time: Pompey 0 Walsall 0
Last season, and in particular under Steve Cotterill, Pompey struggled with first-half displays and tended to relish in the second half, but it looked like things had changed and Pompey just didn’t turn up for the second half.
The away side started off strong as the Saddlers ripped giant holes in Pompey’s defence and created a number of chances from the whistle.
On the 56th minute, Walsall’s James Baxendale benefited on a huge gap between the Pompey defence and midfield and smashed the ball past a helpless Andersen and into the back of the net from around 30-yards, leaving the Fratton faithful livid with the lack of a decision from the ref for an earlier foul on Mustapha Dumbuya.
Just seven minutes later, former Pompey trainee Florent Cuvelier smashed another great finish into the goal from outside of the box again showing the lack of communication between the defence and midfield.
Izale McLeod hit Pompey back on track just six minutes later with a snap shot from a tight angle after Walsall had failed to clear the ball from a corner.
But instead of pushing on for an equaliser, Pompey dropped their heads again as Walsall took control of the game and looked in command, hitting the cross-bar from a long-range effort.
Pompey did have a couple of late chances, but McLeod’s soft shot wasn’t enough to seal a point for Pompey.
Full-Time: Pompey 1 Walsall 2
The Blues looked deflated, unhinged with no real structure and will need to pull themselves together if they’re to take anything away from Tuesday night’s home game against Swindon, still searching for the first league win of the season at Fratton Park.
Walsall played well and have started off the season well after a disappointing one last year. In my opinion, Pompey under-estimated the Saddlers and we never really turned up in the second-half.
There seems to be a few mixed opinions amongst fans on the performance and efforts of Izzy McLeod but no matter what he does, he still manages to find the back of the net.
Rumours claim that Appy is likely to release another player to bring in one more striker – and we certainly need it!
Play up Pompey!
Pompey v Walsall : PREVIEW Posted by kylewhitworth ⋅ September 14, 2012
Pompey return to League One action as they welcome Walsall to Fratton Park. Michael Appleton’s Blue charges will be buoyed by back to back victories after defeating Bournemouth and Crawley in their last two games. Walsall manager Dean Smith will be hoping his young side can continue their recent good form.
PHOTO: Lubomir Michalik likely to be on the bench after joing Pompey yesterday
Pompey will again be without Jordan Obita who remains sidelined for his red card in the defeat to Oldham. Gabor Gypes is the other absentee after injuring his ankle in the away win at Crawley, he is expected to be out for three weeks.
Izale McLeod and Jack Compton suffered knocks midweek but are expected to be fit, while Mustapha Dumbuya returns to the squad after being an un-used substitute for Sierra Leone.
Pompey will welcome new signing Lubomir Michalik into the squad, the Slovakian having joined on a month contract after spells at Bolton, Leeds and Carlisle.
Walsall have Fabian Brady close to a return from a hamstring injury, but may decide this fixture has come a little too soon.
Adam Chambers will return to the side but twin brother James will miss out.
Walsall are unbeaten in four and are unlikely to make many changes to their team who beat MK Dons last time out.
These two sides have met 23 times in all competitions, with the South Coast side victorious on 10 occasions while the Saddlers have taken all three points on 5 occasions.
The most recent fixtures between these sides came in the 2002/03 Division One season as Pompey did the double over Walsall on their way to the title.
Walsall fans look back to April 2000 for their last victory over Pompey, but will want to avoid a repeat of the scoreline 6 months earlier as the Blues thrashed them 5-1 at Fratton Park
Pompey currently sit 17th in the League One table on 5 points, while Walsall sit 9th placed on 8 points. The season is however still young and Pompey could rise as high as 7th while Walsall could rise to 2nd depending on the outcome of this game and results elsewhere.
Probable Pompey Line Up – Andersen, Harley, Long, Thompson, Dumbuya, Williamson, Howard, Russell, McLeod, Rodgers, Compton
Probable Walsall Line Up - Grof, Butler, Holden, Purkiss, Taylor, Featherstone, Cuvelier, Paterson, Hemmings, Baxendale, Bowerman
The Opposition’s View: ⋅ By David Evans (from the Walsall Web Fans website)
Following the last two dour seasons in which Walsall have battled against relegation, their long suffering supporters are hopeful for a far brighter season as manager Dean Smith starts his second full season in the hot seat at Bescot.
The ‘revolving door’ culture has been a talking point for the last few seasons. Every manager who manages The Saddlers knows he has his hands tied behind his back as historically they have one of the smallest if not the smallest budgets in League One. It’s a constant battle to assemble squads against a backdrop of so very little money.
Gates have dropped over the last five or six seasons leaving a hard core support of around 3,500 at best. Relations between the club’s owner Jeff Bonser and the fans are not great. Rent and freehold issues are at the root of all this which saw a peaceful sit-in at a game two years ago. As a result, the owner no longer attends games on matchdays and has stopped giving interviews.
Any young players who show promise are soon sold on. Matty Fryatt, Julian Bennett, Danny Fox, Scott Dann, Ant Gerrard and Troy Deeney have all left in recent times to higher divisions all for ‘undisclosed’ fees.
Manager Smith is a former Walsall captain who went on to serve Hereford United, Sheffield Wednesday and Leyton Orient and it was there that he started coaching and became assistant manager to Martin Ling. Following a spell as head of youth at the Bescot, he was named team manager replacing Chris Hutchings. Smith has slowly but surely got The Saddlers back on track and remains upbeat and focussed on the job in hand. He has the backing of the supporters who realisle what a tough job he has. Realistically mid table would appease the fans after the last two seasons.
Walsall have made around ten signings in the summer. The defence has been bolstered by centre back Dean Holden who has served the likes of Bolton, Oldham, Chesterfield and Rochdale and the 32 year-old has forged a good partnership with captain Andy Butler.
Butler is another player who has been around the block a bit with Scunthorpe and Huddersfield amongst his former clubs. He is a rock-solid defender who leads by example. Likes to go up for corners and set-pieces and even up front when chasing games in the latter stages. He is Walsall’s key player and so popular with the fans and is the current player of the season.
Adam Chambers is a cultured midfielder now in his second season and he has been joined by his twin brother James on a non-contract basis. They were together at West Brom.
Northern Ireland international Will Grigg has been handed the No9 shirt this season and is battling with George Bowerman for a striking role.
Another player to watch is midfielder Flo Cuvelier who is on loan from Stoke City. The youngster had rave reviews in his loan spell with the club last season and was wanted by Middlesborough in the summer.
Walsall’s league season got off to a shock 0-3 home defeat against Doncaster Rovers, however, the team battled hard the following Tuesday evening to earn a 1-1 draw at Oldham when it looked like another defeat was on the cards snatching a point from substitute George Bowerman.
The first win of the season came at Meadow Lane, where despite soaking up a lot of first half pressure, The Saddlers got their passing game going and gradually took control of the game. Andy Butler scrambled home the winner in such a confidence-boosting encounter.
Next up came a home game against Brentford and despite taking a 2-0 lead through George Bowerman and Jamie Patterson were guilty of two defensive lapses in the final four-minutes which resulted in a 2-2 draw.
Last Saturday Walsall beat MK Dons at home thanks to a Dean Holden goal to send The Saddlers into 9th spot. The Portsmouth game on Saturday is an interesting one.
Pompey will be heartened by their win at Crawley whilst Walsall are playing some good football at times and in fairly good form. My prediction is a 1-1 draw.