The View from the Bar
In the last of these columns (and following on from being handed our thoroughly spanked behinds on a plate by Horndean) I opined on the heaviest defeats I could recall in my years following Cowes, and wondered what our record for bouncing back the following week was like. I have to admit, it was my way (more in hope than expectation, to be honest) of trying to put some belief into everyone ahead of the ninety minutes to come. I wasn’t aware of the comments made in the press prior to the game by the Portchester manager, so I’d say the team already had their motivation for the afternoon, but anyway, more of that later.
Big thanks to Glynn Skinner, who did the research that I hadn’t managed – as I walked into Westwood for the Portchester game he handed me an exhaustive rundown of the games we’ve conceded seven or more goals in over the last forty-odd years, complete with the following results to more scientifically examine our ‘bouncebackability’ (TM Ian Dowie, 2004). The first thing I learned was quite how many tonkings I’d managed to forget, not least the record 12-2 thrashing given us by our opponents that very day – Portchester – in the Wessex League Cup just four years ago (I did feel pretty daft having omitted that one from those I recalled in this column, and I can honestly say I didn’t conveniently forget to include it). On closer inspection it turns out that we do indeed have a pretty good record when it comes to steadying the ship after a heavy defeat. Of the 25 matches where we’ve conceded seven or more goals in the last 45 years, we’ve followed up with a win on eight occasions and a draw eight times also, losing again in nine instances.
Actually, the wins record now reads as nine, since, as I’m sure you’ll be happy to recall, we managed to gather all three points against Portchester – who are always tough opponents – and in a game with more than a coupe of memorable episodes.
Yes, as alluded to earlier, it seems Max didn’t have to do much in the way of a team talk, with Portchester boss Dave Carter having pinned us as a “bottom three” side in comments to the Portsmouth News, but the visitors did look the stronger side in the opening exchanges and it took some top quality saves from Ed Hatt to keep us in the game and give us a platform to build on. All three goals were scored in seven minutes as the interval approached – the first from the penalty spot courtesy of goal machine Connor Furmidge, and the second just two minutes later when the visitors had many in the crowd thinking “here we go again” when Portchester levelled matters with apparent ease. What followed though I don’t think anyone here (or amongst the growing numbers who have witnessed it on YouTube courtesy of Toby Brown’s excellent video) will ever forget. Comedy own goals don’t come along that often, but by any standards this one was an absolute belter, when, with no apparent danger, Sam Pearce beat goalkeeper Mowthorpe from fully forty yards with a pinpoint back-pass. I think it would have been one of the loudest cheers ever heard at Westwood had it not been for the fact that so many people were laughing as they celebrated. A big thumbs up to Graham Brown from Broonpics Sports photography too, for capturing the split second that the forlorn keeper was sat in the back of the goal looking distinctly non-plussed as the ball nestled in the corner of the net. Check out the pic on the Broonpics Facebook page, it really is a cracker.
Although a generally scrappy game, the Cowes performance from this point on was top-notch and we really should have added a couple more in a second half that we had by far the better of, but I guess our misfortune – and occasional misfiring – in front of goal only added to the tension and excitement as a resolute defensive display ultimately assured us of a very, very welcome three points.
I have to say, top marks to the Portchester reporter Graeme Moir on Pitchero who gave a very balanced account of events and said that we were good value for the win. He also recognised the part Carter’s comments might have played in how things turned out and finished with the line “To avoid any further confusion over the meaning of any future comments, ahead of the next encounter with Cowes in early December we would like to point out that they are a top side and we fully expect an equally difficult game when they visit us at the OnSite Group Stadium…” Fair play to that, although I’m fully expecting Portchester to be nicely fired up for our rematch in a fortnight.
So yes, never give up hope. There’s always next week. Or, glancing back at last Saturday and events at Blackfield, there’s always this week…
Enjoy the game.