First half was ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ for John Mousinho before Pompey launch recovery

By Sports Desk October 28, 2023

Portsmouth boss John Mousinho felt he saw the worst and the best from his side as they recovered from a terrible start to fight back and secure a hard-earned 3-2 win at struggling Reading.

Protests from the home fans – with around 2,000 supporters also staging a pre-match protest march against Chinese owner Dai Yongge – saw the game paused twice after tennis balls were thrown onto the pitch before the Royals took a shock 2-0 lead through quick goals from Lewis Wing and Charlie Savage.

Pompey, though, fought their way back on to level terms before the break through on-loan Chelsea midfielder Tino Anjorin and Colby Bishop.

Terry Devlin then slotted in the winner early in the second start to extend Pompey’s unbeaten start.

“I was really disappointed by the way that we played for 25 to 30 minutes,” Mousinho said.

“But even at 2-0 down, I was still quite positive of getting back into the game. We then proved that with 15 minutes-worth of very good football.

“The (tennis ball) protests impacted the flow of the game, but Reading had to deal with that as well. They just got on with it.

“For us, it was really Jekyll and Hyde in that first half. To start off, with what we have put together collectively, we were an unrecognisable team.

“But once we had taken that kick in the face (of Reading’s goals), we were excellent.”

After the final whistle, Reading substitute Amadou Mbengue received a red card following a skirmish between both sets of players.

Reading slipped to the bottom of the table as their winless run stretched to seven matches.

“We were just not able to keep the lead,” said Reading manager Ruben Selles said.

“And at 2-1, we had an amazing opportunity to make it 3-1, but that has been happening so often to us lately.

“We don’t put the ball in the net and the next one is coming against us.

“The performance was there, we were competitive against one of the best teams in the league, but we need to be more robust and more ruthless.”

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    Ian Evatt insisted he was ‘baffled’ as to how Bolton did not pick up all three points at neighbours Wigan – let alone coming away from a feisty Sky Bet League One fixture with nothing.

    Stephen Humphrys’ 69th-minute goal was enough to settle a stirring Lancashire derby at the DW Stadium, and see the Latics record a league double over their neighbours.

    But while Wigan’s victory last August had been a 4-0 romp, this time Bolton had the upper hand for three-quarters of the game – without managing to translate that onto the scoreboard.

    It left them wide open to a sucker punch which further dents their promotion hopes.

    “We controlled it, it was one team trying to win and the other one trying to survive,” said Evatt.

    “Football, as I have said before, is a really harsh industry.

    “I am the first to say when we have not performed, and we performed. The only thing missing was the goal.

    “We had chances and they just didn’t go in. Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve.

    “But there isn’t a man in the stadium that can honestly say that we didn’t deserve to win that game.”

    The evening ended with the majority of players from either side involved in a melee that saw both managers having to get involved.

    “We won’t accept one of their players celebrating in front of our supporters,” added Evatt. “Go and celebrate with your own fans, no issue with that, but not ours.

    “You certainly shouldn’t be celebrating when you are mid-table.”

    Opposite number Shaun Maloney countered: “I think their manager thought one of our players was over-celebrating in the far corner.

    “But there’s no hard feelings on either side, these are just emotional moments.”

    On his side’s victory, Maloney added: “We obviously had to defend for long periods. But I really liked some of the things we did in the first half with the ball, without creating a lot.

    “Both teams were trying to play through each other, and I thought they were really good with the ball.

    “I had to respect the players they have – I think they have a lot of good attacking players – and we tried to get pressure high up.

    “At times it worked, and at times it didn’t work. But in that last 20 minutes or so, we had to defend and in fairness to the lads, I thought they were brilliant.

    “It was tough, really tough out there and they really dug deep.

    “It was a derby and in these types of games, particularly being at home, you give absolutely everything… every tackle, every header, you give it your all.

    “In terms of tactical things, the fans aren’t going to worry… as long as they see their players giving their all, they’re happy – and they did.

    “Trust me, I would have liked more of the ball but it was tough out there and we needed the fans, particularly near the end.

    “Some of the lads were on their knees at the end and they take all the credit there, along with the fans.”

  • Paul Warne bemoans Derby’s second-half display in shock home defeat to Charlton Paul Warne bemoans Derby’s second-half display in shock home defeat to Charlton

    Derby boss Paul Warne admitted his team did not look like a promotion side after they were beaten 2-1 at home by strugglers Charlton.

    For the second time in four days, Derby lost after going in front and Warne knows they have to improve to have a chance of going up.

    Derby had a lot of possession in the first half and went ahead in the 39th minute when Eiran Cashin headed in a corner.

    But it was different in the second and a rush of blood from goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith allowed Charlton to draw level.

    Wildsmith brought down Daniel Kanu and Alfie May sent him the wrong way with the resulting penalty.

    Another mistake gave Charlton their first win since November when Ebou Adams let Kanu in and although Wildsmith blocked his shot, Karoy Anderson scored his first senior goal with the rebound.

    “Very frustrated, I thought the first 20 minutes our play was really good without creating clearcut openings and I was really pleased with how we played first half,” Warne said.

    “Second half we didn’t start as well and there’s a massive turning point. Joe’s held his hands up, but it’s a mistake.

    “That was disappointing from our point of view and then another mistake in the middle of the pitch and they punished that.

    “It isn’t a performance of a team that’s going to get promoted and that isn’t the level of performance that we expect.

    “We have shot ourselves in the foot no end of times this season at home, more so than away, and tonight we got punished for our mistakes, and we have to be better if we are going to be successful.

    “We didn’t have enough, that’s the honest truth. It’s really disappointing because in a position like that with so few games left, you need to see games out and manage them better.

    “We didn’t have enough great performances in the second half to justify the three points.”

    Charlton manager Nathan Jones admitted his side’s half-time team-talk was the catalyst for t

    “It was a game of two halves,” the Welsh boss said. “The first half, we were nowhere near the levels we demand. We were tentative, we weren’t aggressive enough and we allowed Derby to do certain things we didn’t want them to do.

    “We had a few words at half-time and in the second half I thought we were outstanding. We over-ran them, we were aggressive and I’m really proud of the second-half performance.

    “And that’s what they’ve got to learn, they haven’t won for a long time, so we are having to cross milestones in terms of things, but that second-half performance was everything I wanted from my team.

    “Now we are showing form that can take us forward.”

  • You learn to dance in the rain – Steve Evans hails hard-fought win You learn to dance in the rain – Steve Evans hails hard-fought win

    Steve Evans was pleased to see his Stevenage side ‘dance in the rain’ as Boro returned to the top six with a 1-0 win over managerless Cambridge in League One.

    Jordan Roberts turned and swivelled on the edge of the box to score and press home Stevenage’s dominance after Us keeper Jack Stevens was called into action on multiple occasions, with his side now just five points above the relegation zone.

    As for Stevenage, they leapfrogged Oxford to move back into the play-off spots and Evans hopes his side have what it takes to weather the challenges ahead in the run-in.

    He said: “When you are in the promotional season, I have been in it many times. There are loads of storms that come.

    “Storms can be opposition, they can be officials or players getting injured. Storms could be bad misses; storms can be bad mistakes at the back or a bad error.

    “But you learn to dance in the rain, and that means you learn to work hard and be disciplined and I thought my players danced in the rain tonight.”

    Stevenage were threatened by Cambridge sporadically in the second half, and the home side failed to add a nerve-settling second goal for the second game in a row after failing to put 10-man Wycombe to the sword on Saturday.

    Evans said: “I think tonight there is no reason why we don’t score more, and we had a couple of one-on-ones and we have to take them.

    “We moved it around and we had big opportunities to get the second goal and then enjoy our evening, but I think this season we have never done it the easy way compared to last year.”

    Cambridge, meanwhile, have won only once in their last six games and find themselves without a manager ahead of a crunch trip to third-place Bolton on Saturday, with Barry Corr expected to take charge in the north-west.

    The interim head coach said: “Stevenage are very direct and get numbers around the ball, and we needed to do something about that.

    “You have to combat Stevenage and they are good at what they do. They spend ages over everything and Stevenage is a difficult place to come this year and they are having a brilliant season.

    “The fixtures have been difficult in the last three games, we played three teams in the top six. I don’t want to make excuses but these games won’t define our season and playing Bolton away won’t define our season.

    “But we will go there and we will look to be as competitive as we can, and we don’t want to feel sorry for ourselves.”

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