Pompey frustration may be blessing in disguise

Action from Pompey's scrappy draw with AFC Wimbledon in November. Picture: Joe Pepler
Action from Pompey's scrappy draw with AFC Wimbledon in November. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey 1 Southend 0: They said what

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There are few things as frustrating as embarking on a trip to see your team play, only for the game to be called off at the last moment.

Easter Monday brought that disappointment for a sizeable number of Pompey fans as AFC Wimbledon’s Kingsmeadow pitch was left waterlogged on the morning of the game.

Quite why the Dons didn’t see fit to hire a pitch cover remains a mystery.

Storm Katie, which wreaked havoc on the south on Sunday night, had been predicted by many national forecasters – the fact it had been given a name is usually a clue.

And with the clash set to be televised in front of the Sky cameras, the news got worse for the Blues as the postponement denied them a five-figure windfall with a sum in excess of £10,000 slipping away.

But, and this is a big but, I actually think the game being called off may prove to be a blessing in disguise for Paul Cook’s side.

Time will tell whether or not that is the case but let’s speak hypothetically for a minute.

Had the hosts thought to cover their pitch and presented a surface referee Andy Madley deemed playable, the likelihood is it would not have been conducive to Pompey’s preferred style of passing, possession-based football.

One criticism which has been levelled on the inconsistent Blues is they often come unstuck in a physical battle, which Monday’s game would likely have deteriorated into.

Not to discredit the Dons’ style of play but when the heaviest man in the Football League, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, leads their frontline then it gives you an indication of the threat they can pose to opponents.

Adebayo Akinfenwa is more than a battering ram – I need to put a disclaimer in here in case he sees this – and there are no guarantees he would have started the game.

But if the reverse fixture in November is anything to go by, a 0-0 scrappy stalemate, Pompey were in for a real test of their automatic-promotion credentials in conditions which surely would have only favoured their opponents. So April 26 is the rescheduled date when Cook’s men will hope for better weather and for the Dons to be cut further adrift of the play-off places.

Why so far away when the Football League dictate it must be played at the earliest possible opportunity, you ask?

Well the small matter of the fact AFC Wimbledon share a ground with Ryman League premier division side Kingstonian.

The idea of playing a day or two after the Dons’ lower-league neighbours cut up the surface is one that common sense ensured played into Pompey’s hands.

And who knows? In a month’s time, the hosts, who now sit in 10th position, may not have so much riding on the fixture.

The fact the Blues’ biggest perceived rival for third spot, Bristol Rovers, suffered a surprise 3-2 loss at Carlisle also allows a more positive outlook on Monday’s postponement.

An end to their six-game winning run and slight release of their grasp on third place has breathed life into the automatic promotion hunt.

Indeed, that was one of a number of decent results for Cook’s men as they were forced to look on.

Play-off hopefuls Leyton Orient were beaten 2-0 by Hartlepool at Brisbane Road.

And Oxford United also missed out on the chance to open up a gap on their rivals as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Cambridge.

Plymouth and Accrington both won but the Blues will feel they can claw back the eight-point gap to the Pilgrims who now occupy the all-important third spot.

With a one-game advantage and Derek Adams’ men to play at Fratton Park next month, Pompey may see the £10,000 they missed out on at the Dons as a small price to pay if they sneak the final automatic-promotion spot.