Vital Football

Pompey punish Cats

1 - 0

Fratton Park


Attendance: 20,139


Pompey were all out for revenge after a poor showing in the return fixture on Wearside ended in defeat. The match itself though was flat at best, dire at worst.

The match itself was decided by Pompeys first successful penalty since Muntari smashed in against Reading, Defoe scoring where Kanu, Benjani and Kranjcar had all failed.

If I wanted to be harsh I could describe the game like this:

1st half

Nothing happened.

2nd Half

We scored.

But although that would about sum it up, I will try to put some meat on the bones!

1st half.

As the game kicked off, it was soon obvious that a point would be enough for Sunderland, their dire away record was enough to curb their enthusiasm, but Pompey would be asked to break them down, something we are starting to get used to at Fratton Park.

Muntari was first to try his luck, his fierce drive from a free-kick was too high though and ended up with the fans on the Muilton end. From a similar position on the other side of the pitch, Kranjcar bettered the effort with one that would have ended in Alverstone road had the roof not been put on in the summer.
The match lacked any fluency, Pompey huffed, but struggled in vain to create anything for the recalled duo of Defoe and Baros to feed upon, the one time the ball reached Defoe in a scoring position he was ruled offside before he miscontrolled in front of goal.
Referee Dowd wasn't helping matters with an officious display, his whistle went off more often than Ashley Cole on a night out.

A clash of heads between Diop and Whitehead amazingly didn't end with a hospital trip for either, the smack was audible from my seat at the top of the South stand.

As the half drew to a close, Glen Johnson had a running arguement with Dowd, he had been penalised for fouling as he pushed forward, complaining at the decision he just found himself in the book, referee Dowd further endearing himself to the Fratton faithful.

Second half

Pompey came out with more purpose for the final 45,after 5 minutes Defoe finally worked the 'keeper with a half volley after Baros' strong run down the right wing, but his shot lacked any real pace or direction.

Glen Johnson started to storm forward in some of his trademark runs, in one, his left footed strike had Gordon saving low to his left.

The match still just ticked away, Diop continued to give away possesion with Muntari, Diarra was harrying well though and Kranjcar was regularly winning free-kicks with his quick feet and skill.

Kanu came on for Baros and immeadiately started to hold the ball up and feed others.
Kranjcar found himself up against the rotund Andy Reid once more in the Sunderland penalty area, he skipped past the salad dodger and tried a Johan Cruyff drag back on Bardsley, Bardsleys leg did the rest and Pompey had a golden chance to break Snderlands resistance, the penalty was a bit weak, but maybe the ref had weighed it in with Evans' blatant shirt tug On Hreidarsson moments earlier.
Defoe stepped up and smashed the ball into the net, no shimmies and stutters in his run up. Pompey had the lead and instantly looked a better outfit. Kranjcar and Kanu started the back-heels and flicks, and we looked a threat again. Defoe was found with a lovely square ball, his attempted cross seemed to strike a hand, but we had had our benevolence from the referee for today.
The match petered out, we had 3 welcome points, and Sunderland were left without one singular strike on target, they have only 2 points on the road, and if you can't hit the target, you can't score a goal.

Star Player

Kranjcar was about the only really creative spark on what was really a crap match, his dribbling skills earnt us the penalty, and some of his control to escape his pursuiters ws worth watching alone.

Player Ratings


Had little to do, unlike recent games.


Broke forward well and gave the side much needed width when he could.


Solid and assured, he showed Jones what he is really capable of, and even had a little sojurn up the right wing.


Back to hinself after an uncharacteristic shabby showing at Preston


He is no Ryan Giggs on the left, but a willing and able performer


The engine room purred along, but found some other components misfiring alongside him.


Played like a wardrobe


Not at his best still, gave the ball away and lost possesion in some dodgy areas.


Shines when all around dulled in comparison


Ran hard, but with little service had to come deep, need a bit of luck


Buried his chance when it came, and not many have managed from 12 yards this season


Frustrates many fans, but the big man oozes class and livened up the game when he came on.

What's next?

Harry Redknapp needs to look at his midfield, Diop and Muntari have not returned on form, Davis is waiting in the wings and may get his chance sooner rather than later.

Date:Saturday February 23 2008
Time: 10:08PM


3 points will do, but as my mate pointed out on the way out, he is witnessing Pompeys best season for years, and has seen us win 4 times!
23/02/2008 22:10:00
kanu really changed the game - not because he played well, he was his slow, lathargic self - but because he has PRESENCE on the pitch. the sunderland players respected him, and as the comentators pointed out, they literally slowed down to his pace when he had the ball! he opened up gaps for our other players, and after he came on (although HR claims it was a "tactical switch of position") kranjcar seemed more comftable playing around with the ball too. so basicly, despite not really doing anything, he completly changed the game!
23/02/2008 22:16:00
baros was *****************
23/02/2008 22:16:00
and johnson was a star all game - again. and jamo was clearly very bored with the game...
23/02/2008 22:17:00
Thats your opinion Capet, I thought he ran and ran and tried as best he could with little service and no width from the team. Still, win when playing badly, the sign of a good team according to many pundits.
23/02/2008 22:18:00
Baros that is
23/02/2008 22:19:00
Not being a Kanu fan it pains me to say this, but Kanu was my MOTM. In the first half we were hopeless. The Defoe/Baros pairing up front isn't working because we have no true wingers and they both need the crossball feed. We were getting bogged down in the middle with most of the players from both sides in that area. Kanu came on and the play widened and we gave Sunderland trouble. He held the ball upand fed it on well. Although slow, at least he went after the ball this week and didn't just stand there. Kranjkcar was good with his feet but why does he persist in going 1 play too far or passing the ball to players who are in a worse position than he is. Muntarai was poor. Johnston was given the run around by a half fit Andy Reid in the first half and only came good when Reid got tired. Defoe was better when Kanu came on and he got the ball more. Baros....well on his showings so far,I hope we don't buy him and we keep Nugent in his place. My thoughts after the match-if we are 7th playing like this we are either very lucky or the teams below us are terrible or both. Europe here we come but what will we do if we get there? Not much on our latest showings.
23/02/2008 22:50:00
Has anyone kept count on the times Diop has been in a scoring position and missed and/or blasted way off target? When was the last time he scored for anyone?
23/02/2008 22:53:00
pompey4me - yes, it is my opionion, and watching the game on the tv, you dont see the movement of players off the ball, but from what i could see, he couldnt do anything with it when he got it. (baros)
23/02/2008 23:52:00
fratton aussie - i dont reall understand what you mean kranjcar passing the ball to players in a worse position than he was in - when did he do that??? he had a great game, and it was his ball skills that made the game worth watching. in regards to diop, i have lost count of the number of times he has mucked up an oportunity - BUT teams HATE playing against him, becuase he completly kills any attacking move that they put together
23/02/2008 23:54:00
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