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A New Low By Jim Bonner
Updated Saturday, 26th January 2013
Portsmouth 1 Hartlepool United 3
I woke up this morning, the sun was shining and I was feeling good about Pompey's chances of finally winning a game of football.
After a positive Fans' Conference meeting I was looking forward to a new, fresh team that were rid of the underperforming "stars" stick it to a team that were supposed to be much worse than they were.
How wrong I was.
What I forgot to remember is despite the new players, the same defensive frailties in this team remain and you know all hope is lost when the defence are incapable of defending simple long balls that would usually be dealt with at Sunday League level.
Once again, Pompey started positively. Adam Reed caused problems playing as a right wingback with his pace whilst Dan Butler started well on his first start on the opposite flank.
Another debutante in Shaun Cooper was the first to test Scott Flinders in the Hartlepool goal with a drive from distance and then he made an outstanding double save to keep out Darel Russell's long shot and then David Connolly's effort from close range.
Russell then missed a free header from a corner as Pompey paid the price for not taking their chances. Just moments later Hartlepool were awarded a free kick and what should have been an easy long ball to deal with was met by the head of Jack Baldwin who glanced the ball into the net.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Pompey after they had dominated the early period of the game as it dissolved into a scrappy affair with both teams being wasteful in possession, although Hartlepool did cause some chaos with a goalmouth scramble as Pompey's poor defending almost cost them again.
The second half didn't see an improvement as James Poole was given too much time in the box and should have scored with his header that went just wide.
James Keene came close-ish to equalising for the blues when he hit the stanchion with his shot from the edge of the box but more terrible defending saw the Pools double their lead soon after.
A long hoof from the back caught out the entire Portsmouth backline and James Poole had a clear run at goal before making no mistake in placing the ball past Eastwood who had been left completely exposed.
Jed Wallace pulled one back by slamming the ball into the back of the net from a tight angle when Flinders had parried Keene's effort but the rally didn't really happen and the game became frustrating because of stoppages and poor decision making from some of Pompey's players.
The result was made worse at the death when young Butler was robbed of the ball and Greg Rutherford (not the long jump gold medallist) scored on the break.
It's unbelieveable that this team, comprised of experienced players and a defence marshalled by Ricardo Rocha and Gabor Gyepes could concede such basic goals and lose to such a poor team as Hartlepool. They're only five points behind Portsmouth in the league now!
There is no point complaining about the result as the season has been over for a long time and a team with so many new players added to it were always going to struggle, no matter who the opposition were.
Although there were some decent chances created you cannot win any game of football at any level defending the way Pompey did today. The fans deserve better than being accustomed to constant defeats but I would not be surprised if we didn't win again all season.
All this means is that when things do eventually turn around, it will feel so much sweeter.
Pompey Player Ratings
Simon Eastwood: 6 - Let down by is defence.
Dan Butler: 5 - Looks promising and will learn from his mistakes.
Ricardo Rocha: 6 - Tried to hold things together.
Gabor Gyepes: 5 - Not a good return.
Johnny Ertl: 4 - Slow and marking was poor.
Adam Reed: 5 - Better going forward than at the back but little end product.
Shaun Cooper: 5 - Very hit-and-miss.
Jed Wallace: 6 - Looks like he could keep his place in the side long term.
Darel Russell: 5 - Will be leaving after Tuesday but nobody will care.
David Connolly: 5 - Didn't make the most of the chances he had.
James Keene: 6 - Worked hard and was a threat at times.
Yassin Moutaouakil (Ertl 63): 6 - Good going forward.
Frankie Sutherland (Reed 63): 5 - Didn't really notice him.
Ashley Harris (Cooper 63): 5 - No real impact.