Fans’ Panel: Pool’s natural born leader

Blackpool captain Barry Ferguson ran the show against Pompey.
Blackpool captain Barry Ferguson ran the show against Pompey.
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Not sure many of us have seen a Lord Mayor’s Show, but the Portsmouth game still felt like the sort of event you get after one.

And if captain fantastic Barry Ferguson took most of the plaudits from our fans’ panel, the bulk of the brickbats were directed at the Bloomfield Road pitch...


The past week has seen a victorious cup replay and a home draw that some will class as disappointing. You can’t win them all, though, and a four-point return from Cardiff away and Portsmouth at home is a good return.

Tuesday night was a fully professional performance – generally classy, without really needing to hit top gear. Early goals helped.

On Saturday, though, we faced yet another team prepared to come to Bloomfield Road and defend. It’s something we’ve struggled with all season and it did against Portsmouth.

We weren’t helped by a lot of pushing and shoving that went unpunished and by our pitch, which is getting into a very poor state.

However, the performance improved greatly when Kevin Phillips and Gary Taylor-Fletcher came on.

Once again, though, it was led by the outstanding Barry Ferguson. He’s a magnificent footballer who is at the centre of everything we do.

The Cathcart/Wilson defensive partnership looks to have a lot of promise too.

Going into this week, we face an important league game tonight and then the FA Cup game at Everton. Three points and a quarter-final place are both perfectly possible.

Man of match: Barry Ferguson (Portsmouth)


On Tuesday night, we were warmed up on a bitterly cold night by a tremendous footballing display as were tore Sheffield Wednesday to pieces to earn a tie at Goodison. Right from the off we were a class apart and we won in style, scoring great goals on the way.

Unfortunately we didn’t manage to take that into the home game with Portsmouth, with most of the blame lying with the state of the pitch, which cut up badly right from the off.

The conditions meant we were unable to play the smooth passing game that had proved so successful on Tuesday as the wide players were unable to get into their stride on the bobbly surface.

In addition, Portsmouth came to disrupt the game from the off, managed to nick a goal against the run of play and were only pegged back by a wonderful free kick from Stephen Crainey. It was exactly the type of game that we would have lost in previous seasons, but we stuck to the task and rescued a point, keeping us right in there in the promotion shake-up.

There is now an important game with Doncaster away tonight before the cup-tie with Everton. It will be interesting to see just how seriously the latter is taken as we follow it up with a match against West Ham next Tuesday, a game that could prove crucial if we are to have any aspirations of automatic promotion.

Interesting times to be a Pool fan.

Man of match: Barry Ferguson


It’s been another productive week for the Seasiders. We’re still in the FA Cup, while another point keeps us ticking along nicely in the league and maintains the unbeaten run in 2012.

At Hillsborough we got into a strong position early on, which makes a change, and saw the game out in relative

comfort. I’m pleased we’re still in the competition and hopefully we will give Everton a tough match on Saturday.

It might have felt like two points dropped against Portsmouth, but if we had drawn at Cardiff and won on Saturday we would all be pretty pleased, so four points from the two fixtures will do for me.

Portsmouth turned up and defended, as expected, but looked more likely to succeed on the counter-attack than other recent opponents.

Their front lin,e in particular, looked very capable and more than able to turn our centre-backs. Unfortunately, the pitch is in a shocking condition and it is becoming difficult to play the style of football we are now famous for.

I like what we’ve seen from Roman Bednar, but he got very little change from the Portsmouth defence and I’m sure it was a night he’ll want to forget. Stephen Crainey will be showing his goal to the grandchildren in future and deservedly so – it was a peach of a strike.

49 points keep us in the pack, but in the tightest Championshp for many a year there is no margin for error.

Hopefully, we can pick up a win at Doncaster tonight and press our claims for the top positions as

we enter the final third of the campaign.

Man of match: Barry Ferguson


On Saturday, the style of play that has won the Seasiders so many points over the past couple of seasons became their downfall.

It wasn’t their fault, of course. Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Spurs ... they’d all have struggled to win on that pitch. Any team that plays nice, attractive football on the ground would have suffered – because the pitch was wobblier than Kenny Dalglish in a post-match interview.

The bad news is that another defensive error – this time collectively in the form of failing to clear the ball from the box – means that after Hull and Reading play their game in hand we could be knocked out of the play-offs.

The good news? Well, what’s good about being held to a draw in a match we dominated because the pitch was in such a woeful state it looked straight out of a Walkers advert for potatoes? You could argue that to continue our unbeaten run is good but

we deserved three points.

I’m not in the business of slating referees. I don’t think it’s fair that every mistake they make means they’re crucified. Holloway has made his fair share – imagine how much he’d kick off if the ref turned around and blamed his tactics for Blackpool’s failure to win.

Don’t blame the ref; blame the game. If the ref didn’t see it, then it is what it is.

Unless (until) technology is brought in to help officiate the game, we’re going to have contentious decisions – but over the course

of the season they even themselves out.

Man of match: Barry Ferguson


No doubt that the dreadful Bloomfield Road pitch and a poor ref had an influence on Saturday’s result. You only have to recall how fast and confidently the players were able to play on the fabulous Highbury surface in the FA Cup last month and the quality of the moves for each goal to understand what a priceless investment a decent pitch can be to a skilful side.

It’s a shame because the home fans are being denied the opportunity of enjoying just what this team is capable and I’m surprised Holloway has not made more of an issue of this.

Like the rest of us, the manager was annoyed by a very inconsistent ref, who seemed to fuss over every free-kick or minor incident while blatantly missing the important decisions.

Man of the match Barry Ferguson received a dreadful kick in the face for a legitimate header at goal but was given nothing, and none of Pompey’s timewasting appeared to be added to injury time in either half.

Gilks again was impressive in goal, Basham and Cathcart were pretty solid and Crainey produced a gem of a free-kick. Ince and Phillips toiled somewhat in the mud, as did LuaLua, while Bednar was unlucky as the final ball to him was often very poor.

Taylor-Fletcher and Silvestre livened things up but Pompey, with their fantastic fans, had by now parked the bus and were increasingly dangerous on the counter-attack. Pool played better at Fratton Park and lost!

Man of match: Barry Ferguson (Portsmouth)

>> TO celebrate his 50th birthday, Peter watched Saturday’s match from a hospitality box with his father.

Peter adds: “Had a smashing time. My Dad had never ever done pre-match hospitality in his life, so it was a great day for him. it was also nice to hear Holloway before the game.

Highpoint for me was the birthday card signed by Pool legend Tony Green. Made my day that!