Team: Kenny, Hill, Walker, Gorkss, Connolly, Derry (Clarke), Taarabt (Borrowdale), Faurlin, Mackie, Smith, Hulse (Agyemang).
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Rowlands, Ephraim, Andrade.
Well that was a draw that felt like a win. On a cold and blustery night by the sea, we really had to dig in to get anything from that game. It was a very even match overall and, although they’re a club that I have never had much liking for, I have to give Portsmouth credit for coming back at warp speed from what looked like relegation certainties after the first month of this season, to a team that now looks like they could make the play-offs or even better.
In a game that could have gone either way, the turning point was the first Pompey penalty. Matthew Connolly was sent off for his tackle on the Strawberry Blonde Kitson and Paddy Kenny then pulled off a brilliant stop to save the penalty from Liam Lawrence…or so we thought. After what seemed like an age, the referee ordered a re-take and there was no repeat possible with Lawrence putting it to the other side of the goal the second time. With ten men, Rangers still kept going forward and playing decent football, but it looked like the unbeaten run was coming to an end.
Jamie Mackie ran his legs off as usual and made a massive contribution. In the last minute of normal play, the ref gave the R’s a penalty after an alleged Liam Lawrence handball. Lawrence was livid and showed the ref the bruise on his ribs where he claimed the ball had hit him, but all he got for his protests was a red card. Tommy Smith then tucked home the penalty kick against his former club – cue mass celebrations amongst the Rangers fans in the packed away end behind the goal he scored in.
We got back to the car to find a ¬£35.00 fixed penalty charge for having the nerve to park on a verge along with dozens of other cars and would have been sick if we’d lost – instead we just went off for a pint !
The Rangers team has an enormous quality of character in terms of grit and determination – they do not know when they’re beaten. The most pleasing aspect of it all is that if I compare it to the team of just nine months ago that was beaten at Boro’ and Coventry, and totally smashed at Forest, it is unrecognisable, but still features some of the same players. Full marks to Neil Warnock for stamping his mark on the team so swiftly and effectively. Roll on Forest, revenge for last season’s hiding would be sweet.