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Paying the penalty at Pompey

Posted on 28 September 2008  - 12:00

Portsmouth clinched victory by a 2-0 margin at Fratton Park, a goal in each half leaving us still awaiting a first Premier League victory this term.

Paying the penalty at Pompey

Portsmouth clinched victory by a 2-0 margin at Fratton Park, a goal in each half leaving us still awaiting a first Premier League victory this term.

It was a case of perfect timing for Pompey, a penalty given for handball against Jermain Jenas lifted the home gloom after successive heavy defeats, while the second from a counter-attack came when a leveller appeared most likely.

The restored David Bentley served up some early notice of intent with an arrowing set piece from the right inside the first couple minutes that Jonathan Woodgate headed goalwards, but there was also a signal of the danger at the other end when a Peter Crouch flick-on landed in the path of Jermain Defoe, who proceeded to steer past Heurelho Gomes. Thankfully the flag of the assistant saw to it that Pompey were not given an early cause for celebration.

Richard Hughes then took Gomes slightly by surprise by packing some considerable power into a shot on the slide, but the goalkeeper did well to parry. A Vedran Corluka charge down the right, moments later, resulted in Jamie O'Hara just arriving a fraction too late to record his second goal in two games.

Gomes made a superb reaction save from a Hughes smash just after 20 minutes and ended up on the receiving end of a boot in the eye from Crouch. Pompey were picking up a bit of momentum, although the pressure point was mostly a direct route up to Crouch and seizing on the second ball.

On 33 minutes the home side took the lead from the spot after Jenas lead with his arm when attempting to clear a high ball from the right. Defoe did the honours with Gomes coming pretty close to getting his hands to his strike to the keeper's right.

Portsmouth now held an advantage in a game where there was not much in it, although Roman Pavlyuchenko being isolated in attack was an issue that needed addressing during half-time and the introduction of Aaron Lennon appeared likely.

It proved to be the case and Lennon replaced Gilberto after the break, no doubt to inject some pace in support of the Russian.

There was greater urgency in the approach play of the team, with Lennon seeking to attack Glen Johnson at every opportunity and, from one such sortie, Pavlyuchenko headed just wide. A dash from Nadir Belhadj led to Gomes making another smart reaction save at his near post before a Lennon cross struck the arm of Lassana Diara but, on this occasion, referee Mr Dean deemed that the ball hitting arm was not a penalty awarding offence.

Giovani was next on for Didier Zokora with 57 minutes on the clock and he quickly began to cause problems with his tricky running. From him being illegally halted on one such run, a Bentley free-kick dipped into the area and the outstretched leg of Pavlyuchenko could not quite guide the ball towards goal.

A two-goal deficit was inflicted on 67 minutes when, from a speedy counter, Armand Traore drilled a shot in that Gomes blocked, but the loose ball looped up towards the head of Crouch and the England striker applied the nod to double the advantage for the home side.

The goal was against the run of the play and the scoreline not in tune with the course of events. Darren Bent came off the bench to try and provide some thrust up front, with Pavlyuchenko withdrawn.

A Woodgate chip forward did set Bent in motion but, while he went wide to avoid David James, he could not keep his effort from flying high. Lennon did force a fine save out of the England keeper before Pompey were reduced to ten following Diarra's lunge on Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

It came too late to really have any effect on the outcome and it is now off to Poland on a mission to book UEFA Cup group stage football for the next few months.