Saturday, 3 March 2012

Pompey Problems Cast A Shadow Over Boro's Victory March

With a new month came A New Hope, in the form of both players and results.

In the days between being literally Burnt After Reading and today's game, we got the rare chance to celebrate our Carling Cup victory of 2004 (which just happened to take place on a "leap date"). Then, hours after I had written, "a club who was once spoilt for choice with left-wingers has none at all", Mogga rectified that by welcoming the very talented Adam Hammill on loan for the rest of the season.

Cue rejoicing and numerous Star Wars-references on Twitter (yes, I know Luke Skywalker's name isn't spelt the same way, but it's still a good reference). I'm in complete agreement with James Stevenson when he says Hammill is the answer to Boro's lack of width. He may not be as gifted as our own Stewart Downing or Adam Johnson, but so long as he delivers for us at this level, who cares?

Most importantly, we got back to winning ways - and how. Nicky Bailey - or Boro's Roy Keane, as I once called him - returned, and with him and Hammill on board, we claimed an eventually convincing victory. "Eventually" in that despite forcing Portsmouth 'keeper Stephen Henderson to pull off a succession of good saves, and going 2-0 up through a Barry Robson penalty and a Matty Bates header, we nearly contrived to throw it away after Greg Halford pulled a goal back from the spot and Boro old boy Dave Kitson missed a golden chance to level. Same old Boro story then? Not quite... Marvellous Marvin was on hand to seal the points with seven minutes remaining.

Unfortunately, not everyone was smiling in the aftermath of the game. Rhys Williams' sending off, unfair though it was, was a minor problem, as he'll only miss one game. Ditto the behaviour of the Pompey fans near the end of the match, although there was absolutely no need for that missile to be thrown at Bates. What really leaves one worried is that the four points we've accumulated from Pompey (it would have been six but for Luke Varney's late, late goal in the halcyon days of August 2011) could yet be none if Pompey find themselves unable to complete the season. To quote the BBC site on Thursday:

"The BBC... understands that any advantage accrued by other teams in games against Pompey, including points and goal difference, would be wiped out by the Football League if the side do not fulfill their remaining fixtures."

I know how selfish of me it is to bring this up, especially since I have always felt sympathetic to the plight of Pompey. But would it be fair on all the teams, including Pompey themselves, if the efforts they exerted in the matches they played counted for nothing apart from the loss of revenue and the premature demise of a famous football club?

It is hoped that some kind of resolution can be found to what we'll now call, "The Pompey Problem."

Now, bring on Barnsley at the Riverside on Tuesday...

* * * * *

At this moment in time, my thoughts turn to another Boro legend, of sorts - Jack Charlton, who at present is in hospital recovering after a fall at his home.

Fans will no doubt remember him best for winning the Second Division by fifteen points in his first season as Boro manager, and then the three years of top flight consolidation that followed. Me? I like to think his tenure at Ireland boss was the main reason I got into football in the first place. For even though the football, to put it mildly, wasn't the best, he gave us many great memories. He certainly didn't deserve the excessive bile lobbed at him by one Eamon Dunphy.

Get well soon, Big Jack!

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