Osman Defeats Holland to Claim Portman Cup Victory
Friday, 31st May 2019 12:13
A team of fans led by Russell Osman defeated a side managed by Matt Holland 9-4 in this season’s Portman Cup at Portman Road last Friday.
The Portman Cup is an annual event in which supporters pay to experience what it’s like to play a game on the hallowed turf.
The players arrived at Portman Road at 1.30pm to find their kit laid out in the dressing rooms, just as the real teams would on a Saturday afternoon.
Prior to kick-off, the sides were introduced to their managers before taking part in a warm-up on the practice pitch.
New Blues keeper Tomas Holy was asked if he fancied taking part as he made his way past the back of the Co-op Stand having had his traditional scarf photos taken ahead of the announcement of his signing from Gillingham later that afternoon but the amused Czech man mountain declined the offer of a first chance to grace the Portman Road goalmouth.
Following team-talks, the game, which was played in traditional FA Cup final type weather and in three thirds with everyone in both squads playing at least 60 minutes, got off to a lively start with Osman’s away side eventually grabbing a lead via Shane Fulcher just after the 20-minute mark before both teams had goals ruled out for offside.
Jordan Halls made it 2-0 before Chris Thompson, the Portman Cup’s all-time record goalscorer, immediately pulled one back for Holland’s home team, however, Julian Beaumont quickly restored the away side’s two-goal advantage.
Thompson had the chance to reduce the arrears once again just before the first break from the penalty spot - vehemently disputed by Osman on the touchline - but away keeper James Deacon kept out his kick to leave the scoreline 3-1 as the teams went to the touchline for further instruction from their managers at one-third time.
After the restart Holland’s Blues quickly made it 3-2 via Matthew Thompson’s brilliant 35-yard strike, keeper Deacon perhaps not deserving to have been beaten seconds after superbly blocking a goalbound Phil Ham header.
A comeback looked on but despite pressure from the home side the game’s crucial sixth goal went to the away team via Kyle Farthing, then Halls made it 5-2 with his second of the afternoon before completing his hat-trick soon afterwards to make it 6-2 at two-thirds time.
The home team battled gamely to get back into the match with Chris Thompson making it 6-3 soon after the restart.
However, Fulcher’s second of the afternoon and an eighth and ninth from from James Neill and Michael Edwards gave the away team considerable breathing space before Matthew Thompson added his second of the day and his team’s fourth - again after Deacon had kept out a Ham header - to make the final score 9-4.
Following the final whistle the squads took part in a keenly-contested penalty shoot-out won 12-11 by the home side.
The victorious away team were presented with the trophy before the teams returned to the dressing rooms to get showered prior to the post-match presentations and a two-course meal in the Sir Bobby Robson Suite.
Osman, whose assistant manager was his 11-year-old nephew Monty, named the away side’s man of the match as hat-trick hero Halls, while in a controversial and surprising move Holland named Ham as his team’s, while the Most Memorable Moment gong went to away keeper Deacon for his penalty save.
Holland, assisted in the dugout by his son Sam, gave Matthew Thompson, whose shirt bore the name Beattie in tribute to Blues legend Kevin, who was his manager with local side Sophtlogic, the Goal of the Match award for his fantastic strike.
Despite the defeat Holland said he had enjoyed the event: “A fantastic day, I’ve really enjoyed it. I don’t like getting beaten at any time really and 9-4’s a bit of a hammering.
“But I think they had a few younger legs than us but I did really enjoy it. It’s nice to be in the dugout at Portman Road.”
Reflecting on how the Blues might fare in League One next season, the former skipper added: “Fingers crossed for next season, hopefully we can come straight back up, that’s the plan anyway.”
Osman was delighted to record his first Portman Cup victory, particularly having lost to his old central defensive partner Terry Butcher in his previous game in 2016.
“I know the last defeat was a heavy one, and it was a tough one to take, so it was nice to get a win under my belt,” he said.
“If you’ve got one or two players with a bit of pace and some good youthful legs, then it makes a big, big difference.
“There were one or two good goals today, a good performance from my goalkeeper as well because it was probably even-stevens on chances.
“We took more chances than Matt’s team did or our goalkeeper made more saves, there are two ways of looking at it.
“It was very good, very enjoyable indeed. It’s always nice to come back to Portman Road, nice to be close to the action and I look forward to maybe being invited to do it again.”
Looking ahead to how Town’s season in League One might pan out the West Country-based former defender added: “I’ll see you at Bristol Rovers, I’ll tell you then!”
Regarding new signing Holy, whose recruitment was confirmed during the match, and whether he would have liked to have played in front of a 6ft 9in tall keeper, Osman said: “If he jumps 7ft 2in yes, if he jumps and he’s only 6ft 4in, then we’ll have to see!
“It’s always good to have competition for every position on the pitch and I think last year, at the start of the season, things didn’t work out for Bart and then Dean. They never really established themselves with any sort of form in the first team last year.
“And you talk about building the team up from the back, about the back four, but the goalkeeper’s got to be consistent as well and there wasn’t any consistency there in the goalkeeping performances and that spreads through the team.”
Home team: Mike Onslow, Clive Collard, Matthew Thompson, Dave Gooderham, Ben Amoss, Mark Clifford, Dan Bullard, Neil Young, Craig Bullard (c), Daniel Welsh, Carl Sadowski, Nick Sparkes, Chris Thompson, Matthew Hawkins, Phil Ham, Stephen Caley.
Away team: James Deacon, Garry Mills, Gary Barley, Jordan Halls, Mark Cossey (c), Jordan Wright, Shane Fulcher, Julian Beaumont, Michael Edwards, Kyle Farthing, James Neill, Nicky Sudds, Luke Whelan, Matthew Hartnell, Andy Grimes, Kevin Boyles.
Photos: Ruth Fawcett
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