Pre-match talk of Portsmouth fielding under-strength teams for the
remainder of the season following their nine point deduction, raised a few
eyebrows when the likes of Mullins, Mokeona and Smith emerged from the
tunnel for the start of their match with Hull.
But the fighting spirit Portsmouth have shown in adversity all season was still on display. For
fans of Hull and Portsmouth its been a week of little to get excited about.
Hull sacked their most successful manager ever in Phil Brown in a last
ditch effort to stop the rot of one win in fifteen. Iain Dowie wasn’t first
choice by any means but he has taken up the challenge at the KC stadium to
maintain their Premier league status. And it was Dowie, who could have been
forgiven for counting the three point and thinking ahead to next week, when
Pompey pulled two rabbits out of the hat in the dying stages to steal the
A rainy day on the south coast and the bottom two teams didnt raise many
expectations for this to be a spectacle. Hull, winless away from home all
season, surely had to take all three points from this game if they were to
have any chance of avoiding the drop. Three minutes in and Venegoor of
Hesselink nearly caught Pompey napping when he saw his looping header beat
James but bounce back off the upright. That was the only excitement in a
dour 20 minutes until Nadir Belhadj unleashed a rasping shot from a short
corner. The drizzling rain wasn’t making life easy, but Jimmy Bullard was
looking comfortable and had a couple of near misses from outside the box.
It was from a Bullard shot that the resulting corner was cleared to Craig
Fagan on the edge of the box. His low, hard shot through a sea of players
took a couple of deflections, the last of which came off Caleb Folan and
past a flat-footed James, his first for the campaign.
Hull were gaining
some momentum and Pompey were a bit rattled. James picked up a yellow card
as he fumbled a ball as he dived on the edge of the box and gave away free
kick for handball, but Bullards effort came to nothing.
At the other end Tommy Smith was lively and had a great chance from a
delightful O’Hara through ball, but his first touch let him down and he
skewed his shot wide. Minutes later, O’Hara sent over a penetrating corner
deep into the box. Goalkeeper Myhill hesitated and the ball was stabbed
home by Tommy Smith for his first Portsmouth goal.
It was deserved goal for Pompeys efforts in the first half. David James was having a torrid first
half and was all at sea again when he made a meal of Belhadj’s backpass
just before half time. It was an unspectacular first half with Hull looking
very nervy and struggling to show any authority.
Early in the second half Paul McShane lost his cool and lashed out
Piqiuonne and much to the amazement of the crowd, referee Phil Dowd let it
go. Twice in a week a Pompey player has been man-handled and gone
unpunished by the officials. Pompey fans will tell you its par for the
course this season.
Avram Grant brought on Kanu for Mokeona on the hour, and the wily old
campaigner, added some direction to the toothless pompey attack. Smith was
still lively, chasing anything near him, but they didn’t really look like
scoring. Pompey were racking up the corners and dominating possession, but
lacked the final touch.
Hull introduce Richard Garcia for Andy Dawson, and almost immediately had
an impact. The ball bounced off referee Dowd to Garcia whose through ball
for Folan, caught the Pompey defence cold and he calmly slotted pash James.
It was Hull’s first real move forward for the half and Pompey again were
made to pay for not converting possession into a lead. The Portsmouth
players were furious, but Dowd allowed the goal to stand, despite the
advantage of the officials interference. Hull could sense a win and pushed
on for another goal to kill the game off.
Late on it looked like Hull had done enough to secure a vital three
points,and seemed content to sit on their lead and soak up the Pompey
Pompey won a free-kick on 88 minutes from a Jimmy Bullard high leg just
outside the box within range. Jamie O’Hara curled a crisp shot high into
the corner of the net to send the Fratton End into raptures. It looked like
Pompey had gotten themselves a heard earned point after all. It was
O’Hara’s first goal at home and just rewards for a another fine display in
From the re-start Hull, still stunned from the equaliser, dilly-dallied
with the ball and Belhadj intercepted a tired pass from Garcia and whipped
the ball into the box for Kanu to calmly slot home.
The Pompey faithful, still buzzing from the equalizer, were now in full
voice. In the 5 minutes of stoppage time, Hull could not muster a reply and
Dowie will study the tapes to see what went wrong for Hull.
Pompey are not mathemathically down, but would need a spectacular run of
results to pull off survival. Surely not?
Next up Chelsea.