As you may have seen, our very own Glensider has already provided a report that I, to be honest, do not have much to add to in terms of the game!
One advantage I did have was that I did have a team sheet but to be honest, I also couldn’t tell you who any of their players were! I thought their number 10 – Gautier Mahoto – looked quite good but has a serious attitude problem that he needs to work on. Their wide men – Gael Nlundulu and Paris Cowan-Hall – also caused a few problems but that was about all that was notable. Well, other than the horrendous pink kit that their keeper was wearing. Pompey have many problems at the moment and judging on this performance, their answers do not lie in reserve.
That is not to say it was easy; they were well organised and were set up to frustrate us. A 6-1 mauling perhaps still fresh in their minds from last season, this Pompey side reminded me a bit of their first team, in as much as they are no pushovers, but you’re going to be disappointed if you don’t beat them. No disrespect meant to Portsmouth there, I’m just saying how I see it!
We were in control quite early on, with ‘The Hoff’ going close with our first chance. Weimann, Herd and ‘The Fonz’ all went close afterward, but the deadlock was broken with a wonder goal by Barry Bannan.
After spraying out a great ball to the right hand side, Albrighton whipped in yet another dangerous cross which Pompey failed to deal with. The ball landed to Bannan who still had lots to do, but he went round at least three men and drove the ball home in a manner that was deserving of a stage bigger than a mere Monday night reserve game. The wee lad has something a bit special.
We nearly went close a couple more times, the Fonz unlucky not to score after a good bit of skill of his own leaving the full-back for dead only to be foiled by the keeper. The Fonz clearly has a match-winning ability in him, and with him providing his own danger, Albrighton whipping in his almost trademark crosses and Bannan knocking the ball about in a way that can only be described as ‘Cowans-esque’, Pompey were left with a difficult defensive task that, to their credit, they managed well. They offered little offensively and when they did, the ever impressive pair of Ciaran Clark and Nathan Baker dealt with it pretty easily.
The second half petered out a bit, Villa still in control, Pompey still trying but failing to provide any real threat. Bannan was less influential but continued to look impressive. Albrighton continued to whip in crosses that you just wish had a Carew head on the end of them!
The deciding goal came from a superb long range effort from Chris Herd, who had been set up following some good work by Andreas Weimann.
All in all, a good nights work for the young lads. I can see the title staying where it is already…
Andy Marshall – 7
Had very little to do, what he did do he dealt with just fine.
Eric Lichaj – 7
I can’t help but be reminded of Luke Young by this lad. He’s not spectacularly great, but he is consistent, he’s solid defensively and if he had a bit more about him going forward he’d be superb – much like Luke Young!
Shane Lowry – 6
Maybe a 6 is a bit harsh but he let a few too many passes go astray for my liking. Was fine defensively though.
Herd – 7
He does a bit of everything and did enough of the ugly stuff last night to allow Bannan to play. His all-action performance was capped off by a superb strike, which he deserved after going close with a couple of earlier efforts.
Ciaran Clark – 8
Our current fourth choice until Davies is back, and we could do a lot worse. He was composed, in charge and looks more and more like he may make the grade. A loan spell somewhere would be useful, as last night was not challenging enough for him.
Nathan Baker – 7
I don’t think I’ve seen him lose a header yet! Again, composed and in charge, he is the one who goes and wins the ball, and with Clark behind him he can be comfortable to go ahead and win the ball confidently.
Marc Albrighton – 7
Pompey were weary of him and tried to cut off his supply but he still managed to get in some wonderful crosses. He still needs work but the lad has a genuine world class delivery. The ‘take half-a-yard’ set-up that Beckham did as a wide man is accompanied by pace and a willingness to take on the full-back. He’s not ready yet, but with some hard work and application he can be a player for us, definitely.
Andreas Weimann – 6
I’ve seen him play better than this. I don’t think he’ll make the grade at the level we want to be at but he’s got enough about him to do okay. He worked hard and didn’t hide, but this wasn’t really his night.
Nathan Delfouneso – 7
Sometimes, he looks like a real world-beater. Sometimes, he does things that remind you there is still work to be done. For instance, he should be spending extra time on the training ground working on heading the ball. He was dangerous but a little wasteful again, basically!
Barry Bannan – 9
A ‘9’ may be a little generous given his performance died down a bit in the second half, but the goal saved him from getting an ‘8’! The thing is, it’s not just a case of knocking long balls that reach their man. It’s the passes where he has a very little target to hit but hits it. It’s the passes where there needs to be a wee bit of ‘spin’ on the ball. It’s the ability to see the passes that a lad of his age can be forgiven for missing. He also has a bit of flair when taking on his man and whipping in a cross. For me, he can not be that far from a first team shout. I am aware that Delph and Gardner will be ahead of him, but if Bannan does get an opportunity I have no fear about him letting us down, especially in a 4-5-1 with the likes of Petrov and NRC looking after him.
Dominik Hofbauer – 6
He was a bit better tonight, especially in the first half, but still doesn’t do enough for my liking. Mostly looked good when he got involved, though.
James Collins, Derrick Williams and Adam McGurk all made an appearance but none of them were really on long enough to pass judgement on. Matthew Roome and Elliott Parish were the unused fellas.
Me and my Dad forgot our season tickets so had to pay in. Therefore, if anyone is interested – it is a £2 entry fee!