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Pompey 1 - Sunderland 0

Fratton Park

23/2/08

Attendance: 20,139

Pompey punish Cats

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


James

Had little to do, unlike recent games.

Johnson

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

Campbell

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

Distin

Back to hinself after an uncharacteristic shabby showing at Preston

Hreidarsson

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

Diarra

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

Diop

Played like a wardrobe

Muntari

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

Kranjcar

Shines when all around dulled in comparison

Baros

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

Defoe

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

Kanu

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.




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The Journalist

Writer: paultsmouth Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday February 23 2008

Time: 10:08PM

Your Comments

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!
paultsmouth
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!
pompeycarpet
baros was *****************
pompeycarpet
and johnson was a star all game - again. and jamo was clearly very bored with the game...
pompeycarpet
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.
pompey4me
Baros that is
pompey4me
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.
frattonaussie
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?
frattonaussie
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)
pompeycarpet
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
pompeycarpet
and harry redknapp gave an interview with the bbc?!?!? what next, pompey to win the fa cup? (although we were still shown last, and derby got more analasys than we got...which wasnt hard, as we didnt get any...)
pompeycarpet
what a terrible game, but what a cracking day out, up at around 6.30 to get ready firts train at 8, home just before 12... long, long day but worth it as we won, and as i say was a crackin' day! kanu showed that using him from the bench is the best way to use his talent...
pompeyrug
On a number of occasions he ran himself into trouble and then passed to a player who was being double marked and had no hope of retaining the ball. He could have easily passed the ball before getting into trouble. I'm not saying he didn't do some good work but he has very narrow vision. Also his long passing is very often off target.
frattonaussie
Carpet, I agree about our players running off the ball. I qustioned last week wether they ever practice that part of the game. Kanu actually did do it sometimes which suprised me.
frattonaussie
The win was more important than anything. Sunderland have spirit and are a decent side. Roy Keane has them fired up for the home games but it seems they don't take that form with them when on the road. I will gladly take the 3 pts above all else. Same said at the Bolton game. I would however prefer to see us in the style that we took to Chelsea otherwise forget about FA Cup glory. Man Utd will put us under the cosh. Europe to me is not that important, finishing as high as we can in the table is.
pompeygray
Pompeygray, thats a bit contradictory'as high as we can it the table" and "Europe is not important to me" aren't they basically the same thing unless you think we are going to fall in a heap and finish in the bottom half of the table. As bad as we have played recently I am still backing us to beat MAN U 1-0. They ha
frattonaussie
sorry compter decided to post befor I finished. They have a lot of games before the cup match with us and we can't play this badly all the time. Can we?
frattonaussie
It's not pretty at the moment but at times we played ok .. Let's not forget Sunderland cam down here and packed the middle and defended deep it was hard for us to create the space to break them down ... Though Baros ran his little cotton socks off but didn't recieve many passes to his feet.. likewise Defoe did the same.. Kranjcar has a great game in parts and poor one in other ... Diop needs to practice his shooting or somebody should shoot him !!.. all it all not a great performance but it's three points and Pompeygray I know what you mean about finishing as high as we can and it we get into Europe more the better but I've a feeling there'll only be one (League) UEFA cup place up for grabs this year (obviously we'll know more after the CC Final) so we might have to finish fifth to get it ... So I'll settle for 7th right now and it that doesn't bring Europe so be it .. not the end of the world ....
Chix
We need to take Diop back to MFI & ask for a refund. Sadly we need a GON type player on the right. Someone who will cross the ball. Muntari needs to get on with Diarra to provide the service to the fron players. Baros & Defoe need the ball to feet in space otherwise it's pointless having them there. Kanu changed the game & made the difference. Winning ugly but winning.
storagematt
kranjcar man of the match thankyou
NK19
true, we need to play more balls to feet rather than poking it into the air - defoe is very short! muntari has come back from the ACoN having played long ball after long ball (allbeit with almost pinpoint acuracy), so will take a little while to settle back into our style of play. i would settle for 7th. (8th probably isnt a big enough imporvement on last season, given the amount of money we spent...)
pompeycarpet
based on their performances until kanu came on, you could have taken off baros or defoe, they were both as bad as each other, but in different ways. it was hard for them to click together as sunderland packed the midfield so much, and our change of formation, when kranjcar went out wide, and kanu supported defoe, allowed us to open up the mackems
jbaker
 

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