A stout defensive display, combined with some dubious refereeing, allowed Oldham to leave St. Marys with a point last night, all but ending Saints' late charge to the play-offs.
Saints 0 - 0 Oldham
Lee Barnard's stoppage time winner at Yeovil on Saturday had convinced many previously cynical Saints supporters that reaching the play-offs was possible, but the pressure of sustaining the winning run caught up with their side last night. After four straight wins, Pardew's men knew they would need four more to keep the pressure on Huddersfield, but few fans would have identified Oldham's trip to the Mecca as the stumbling block. The visitors, however - deploying an understandably negative game plan given their lowly position and Saints' recent form - stifled their opponents from the start. Puncheon built on his impressive recent form with a lively display on the wing but the all-important first break never came.
Paul Wotton came into midfield to replace the suspended Morgan Schneiderlin, whose passing ability was hugely missed. Lloyd James replaced Wotton at the interval in order to restore some of the flow to Saints but was himself replaced by Papa Waigo with fifteen minutes to go as Pardew went all out for the goal, also throwing on David Connolly. The Welshman James had a bit of a shocker, while Pardew reacted angrily when questioned about his substitutions on Radio Solent. A gold-plated penalty claim was denied on a night when little went Saints' way, despite twelve shots on target and the lion's share of possession. The result leaves Saints seven points from the play-offs with three to play.
On a brighter note for Saints, the full extent of Pompey's collapse was revealed today in the Report to Creditors produced by the administrators down at Fratton Park.
In it, the sorry carcass of Pompey's financial accounts are laid bare. It makes interesting reading, particularly the list of creditors (pg 33 onwards), which sets out what Pompey owe to who. Saints are even owed £35,000 by the neighbours down the road - how long before Liebherr sends his attack dog Nicola Cortese along the M27 to sort that one out?
Although much of the damage had already been done by last summer (in terms of a huge outlay on players accompanied by some staggeringly generous contracts), it is simply astonishing that Peter Storrie and others did not do more to safeguard the club given what was happening at St. Marys.
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