Never mind quality; itís victory that matters
Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 25 February 2013
Athletic 1, Portsmouth 0
Win means breathing space for Latics
Athletic need points - and for a third straight league game, points were served – however ugly the plate.
A few weeks ago Philliskirk said artistic grace means nothing for a club facing relegation: he’d take a scrappy 1-0 victory every time. Against a team reduced early in the second half to 10 men, Philliskirk got his wish.
Even Jose Baxter’s decisive goal had a touch of the slapdash about it.
Twice Athletic hit the post after the interval. But fluency was in short supply on a bare, hard playing surface.
It says a lot about the relatively poor standard of football on show that the main moment of magic in the game didn’t result in a goal, or even a clean shot. Still, it was quite something.
Jean-Yves Mvoto picked up the ball 10 yards inside his own half and motored down centre field in the 79th minute.
With a swollen Boundary Park crowd roaring encouragement, he carried on. And on. And on.
Mvoto dipped a shoulder to bypass one retreating defender and repeated the trick to dribble past a second to enter the penalty area. The crowd rose to their feet – before the former Paris St Germain defender tried one trick too many and fell to the turf.
Athletic wasted good opportunities to improve their lead. Obita was consistently off target, pulling an early shot wide when well placed, while Lee Croft was unlucky not to break his goal duck for the season with a left-foot curler that travelled a whisker over the bar.
Sodje’s moment of madness near the start of the second half harmed Pompey’s chances of gaining a foothold.
Only the 32 year old will know what he was thinking when landing a low-blow punch on Jose Baxter in front of the Main Stand.
The red card came after a mild spot of bother involving Obita and Yassin Moutaouakil in which the Portsmouth defender ended up tumbling over an advertising board.
Athletic tried to force too many passes against 10 men, though towards the end clear superiority was restored.
The good spell, which included hitting the woodwork twice, included a slick one-two between substitute pair Robbie Simpson and Matt Smith which ended with the former overplaying by trying a reverse pass.
With his tenure now marked by three wins in a row and a draw against Everton, Philliskirk won’t mind too much that his men didn’t quite hit the heights here. It can’t happen every week, even in this craziest of campaigns.
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