Premier League

Revenge Of The Ex

Exes Tormented Pompey, reports Gary Bowen

Pompey’s wretched season continued at Tottenham yesterday as two first half
goals from two ex-pompey players, and more injuries added to Portsmouth’s
woes at White Hart Lane.

In the dress rehearsal for the FA Cup semi final in a fortnight’s time,
Portsmouth and Tottenham’s well documented connections of ex-players and
coaching staff meant many a sub plot to this game, where on paper it looked
like a home win was the only possible outcome.

Portsmouth, decimated by injuries, had to manage without shining light
Jamie O’Hara and could only name a six man bench. Richard Hughes kept his
place in midfield and starts also for Anthony Vanden Borre, Angelo Basinas,
Michael Brown & Kanu. For Spurs Kyle Walker made his home debut, in for the
injured Vedron Corluka. In-form Roman Pavlyuchenko started on the bench
while Jermaine Defoe was not available due to injury.

Spurs looked dangerous from the beginning with some free-flowing play in
the midfield and down the left flank, with Gareth Bale and Niko Krankjar
heavily involved. Pompey were not without their fair share of possession
and Vanden Borre was looking very creative and Piquionne sent in a teasing
cross for Michael Dawson to clear.

For all of Tottenhams early play, they
only had  a couple of wayward headers from Crouch and Gudjohnson to show
for their efforts. The first clear effort on goal came from Vanden Borre in
the 18th minute. He picked up the ball out wide on the left and made a
dazzling run and after a neat one-two with Piquionne, found himself with
only Gomez to beat in the Spurs goal. It deserved a goal, but he hit his
shot straight at the keeper.

Spurs began to turn the screws and were dominating in the middle of the
park. Portsmouth were desperately missing O’Hara’s influence and except for
Vanden Borre, had no inspiration in midfield. In the Pompey goal, David
James was the subject of much jeering from the Spurs crowd everytime he
went near the ball, following his midweek blunder against Chelsea.
On 27 minutes, Spurs finally broke the deadlock. Bale was involved again in
the build up and his cross found Crouch at the near post to head home,
somewhat awkwardly.

The goal had seemed inevitable given the jittery look of the makeshift
Portsmouth defence. Two minutes later and Dawson saw his header go just
wide. Spurs were piling on the pressure and after Tom Huddlestone’s sublime
strike outside the box hit the crossbar,  Crouch volleyed the rebound
against the post.

It was only a matter of time before they added to their
tally. From the corner the ball wasn’t dealt with by the Pompey defence and
a bicycle kick from Crouch went straight to James.
The second goal finally came when Modric struck from the edge of the box.
He didn’t hit it cleanly and the ball came to Mullins, who failed to deal
with it and Krankjar pounced to stab home from six yards.

Shortly after, Pompey had another great chance to open their account, when
Kanu headed down for Michael Brown inside the box. Brown, not used to being
in such an advanced position took too much time and allowed Gomez to thwart
him. Pompey’s first half opportunities were limited, but they failed to take
them when presented.

Second half and most were wondering how many Spurs could put past the
Pompey keeper.

Just after the re-start Herman Heirdarsson went down unchallenged with an
achilles injury. Danny Webber came on and Pompeys makeshift defence was
re-shuffled further. Vanden Borre was moved to right back and his influence
was missed in midfield. Finnan went into the middle. The game deteriorated in
the second half as Tottenham looked content with their lead and Pompey
huffed and puffed, but failed to really threaten. Hughes was looking
sluggish and a mis-timed tackle on Modric, saw him earn a yellow card. Even
the introduction of Pavlyuchenko for Gudjohnson failed to ignite Spurs on
78 minutes.

James produced a good save from a  Bassong header and Pavlyuchenko missed a
good opportunity at the far post.

Pompeys injury problems were compounded when substitute Danny Webber was
stretchered off late and moments later James pulled up sore with a
persistent calf injury. They only had one substitute left and Ashdown came
on for James and no-one replaced Webber.

When the fourth official held up his board signalling eight minutes of
extra-time, the crowd groaned.  The game had promised so much early on but
the second half degenerated into a non-event and both sets of supporters
had seen enough.

Injury time was played out with no moments of interest. Spurs will be happy
to get another three points which keeps them in the driving seat for fourth
spot.

For Pompey, to coin a phrase of an ex-manager, are down to bare
bones. They have two weeks to get some players fit for their most important
game this season.

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