Latics 1-0 Portsmouth
3rd February 2007
If a week is a long time in politics, it’s an age in football. These seven days may have started with concerns about how a striker from the fourth division could be expected to turn the season around but they finished with discussion about how our four strikers could fit together and how high up the table Latics could still finish. It’s amazing that signing one player and winning a single game can bring about such a sea change in opinion but fandom is a fickle beast and the nay-sayers silence has been deafening since tea-time on Saturday.
If the Reading game had offered a sliver of hope that survival was possible, this game provided the blueprint for that ‘success’. Again Latics came out all guns blazing, managing the previously impossible task of mixing direct play with neat football the result being that Portsmouth were kept on the back foot for the ninety minutes. It might not have been the beautiful game, but it was a damn site prettier than what we’ve become accustomed to and more importantly, it was effective to boot.
That’s not to say that all our ills have been cured, there’s still a lot of work to be done on the tempo and energy of the football Latics play, but at the very least we should be celebrating the first 90 minutes without a stupid, costly mistake since, well it seems like all season. That we managed to get one at the other end? It just goes to show that football is a simple game after all. All you need is to score a goal, keep the opposition out at the other end and, hey presto, you’re taking three points home.
It would be wrong to spend too much time wondering about how poor Portsmouth were. When it comes down to it Latics hammered them for pretty much the full game and the win was well deserved. It might have been different if the away team had more about them but we need every ounce of confidence we can grab at the moment, so let’s believe that Latics won the tactical battle and stopped Happy Harry’s men playing.
With Arsenal up next you have to assume that Latics won’t be looking at two wins on the bounce but it’s important that they get a good performance in at Ashburton Grove. Getting no points would be one thing, to get back to our losing ways another. It’s too early to say that Latics have turned the corner just yet but they’re well into the bend, a spill at this stage could be disastrous.
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