Portsmouth - Pompey 2-0 Villa
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Pompey 2 - Villa 0


Sat 15-03-08, 3pm

Attendance: 20388

Pompey 2-0 Villa

Last weekend I - and others - said it was the start of a week that would make or break our season… we beat United, we beat Birmingham, today Villa came to town looking to boost their own European chances. Yet, we beat them too 2-0.

Harry Redknapp restored Lassana Diarra to the starting 11, Pedro Mendes was the unfortunate man to drop out. Injury ruled out Sol Campbell so Lauren came in with a reshuffle across the back 4 needed.

A good game saw us win through goals from Jermain Defoe and an own goal from Nigel Reo-Coker, the only draw back a sending off for Sulley Muntari, although he was joined by Villa's Olof Mellberg shortly after too.

The Match
A slippery surface did not prove too much for David James who saved comfortably from Shaun Maloney, who saw his effort after a couple of minutes the first of the afternoon.

Milan Baros again started brightly, and but for a better assistant referees decision he would have got in behind the Villa defence after what appeared to be a misjudged ball from Olof Mellberg, then but for a better touch Baros could have got in again.

After 11 minutes Pompey were ahead, Glen Johnson put in a brilliant ball that Jermain Defoe ran on to - showing fantastic movement, controlled expertly before lobbing Scott Carson who had come out to meet him.

But for James Villa would have levelled. John Carew got his head on a cross and as it picked up pace of the wet surface James flew across goal to turn it wide for a corner - right after this we broke and Carson was forced into a save from Baros.

The opening half an hour or so was fantastic, this flew by with both sides having a good say in things. The delivery that Villa were putting in was more often than not being defended well, which was something we knew we would have to do.

In unfortunate circumstances Pompey extended the lead to 2-0 with just over 5 minutes to play before half time. Sulley Muntari played in Defoe and as Carson came out to met him his clearance only hit Nigel Reo-Coker to go in for an own goal from all of 30 yards!

2-0 could have been 3-0 when a quick Pompey break saw them 3 on 3, Baros appeared to be pulled by Gareth Barry but nothing was given and the chance eventually fizzled out…

Virtually on half time, under the watchful eye of Fabio Capello once again James pushed home his England credentials with another fine save - a fingertip save turned Ashley Young's effort round the post. Villa pushed up for the corner and a Pompey break saw Defoe with a free run at goal, sadly Baros' ball was disappointing and the chance was wasted - half time arrived almost immediately after this.

In the opening minute of the 2nd half Papa Bouba Diop had his customary effort on goal - of course off target though… he will score… one day… Soon after Villa should have been back in the game when a good move ended with a good ball into the box from Maloney, but from just 3 yards out Gabriel Agbonlahor could not finish, when he really should have.

Breaking away gave us another change, with plenty waiting for a chance it was Niko Kranjcar who took the effort on, just missing the target when he put it into the side netting. Villa then again should have scored shortly after this chance, a fine delivery from Barry saw Zat Knight with a free header - but he put it wide from 6 yards.

Frustration started getting the better of Villa at times in the 2nd half with Martin Laursen appearing to be going after 'retribution' for what he felt was an elbow from Baros in the 1st half, then Mellberg picked up a booking for wrestling Kranjcar to the ground as he turned on the skills.

With Villa having a fair bit of possession in the 2nd half breaks always seemed our most likely avenue to kill off the game and once such break started by Lassana Diarra saw him play Baros away and his ball into the box saw Kranjcar miss a virtual sitter…

Villa did have the ball in the net through Marlon Harewood but this was ruled out for offside, then James again saved well from a Young free kick - turning this away for a corner.

The final 10 minutes saw us reduced to 10 men when Muntari picked up his 2nd booking of the day. He was unfortunate as his shirt pull was no worse than those that Villa had done during the game - with no punishment.

Harry Redknapp made his 1st change right after the sending off, John Utaka coming on for Defoe, with Kanu on for Baros shortly after.

The numbers were levelled up with time almost up. A cynical trip saw Mellberg pick up his 2nd booking, so he was off for an early bath too - that was enough to see us through.

Match Summary
It was a good game between two good sides who wanted to win, the difference being we defended very well, while Villa did not attack as well as they could have, we took our chances with an absolutely fantastic goal from the red hot Jermain Defoe and an unfortunate own goal from Nigel Reo-Coker.

We moved up to 50 points as a result of the win, and are now up to 6th - bring on the Spurs next week… The one draw back would be the red card to Sulley Muntari - and Olof Mellberg for Villa to be fair - as there was badly a bad foul in the game yet 2 players were send off…

As said at the start of the week I - and again, as said others - said this was a make or break week, well it certainly was not break was it as we won not once, not twice but three times in seven days!


Pompey 2 - Jermain Defoe 11, Nigel Reo-Coker 38 o.g
Villa 0

David James
Glen Johnson
Hermann Hreidarsson
Sylvain Distin
Papa Bouba Diop
Lassana Diarra
Sulley Muntari
Niko Kranjcar
Milan Baros (Kanu 83)
Jermain Defoe (John Utaka 81)

Substitutes Not Used
Jamie Ashdown
Lucien Aubey
Pedro Mendes

Join the Vital Pompey Debate

The Journalist

Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday March 15 2008

Time: 5:25PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
A really good performance but we needed a bit of luck and David James to get the three points. The watching Capello now knows who is number one keeper is without doubt. Both sendings off were a farce by a very poor referee.
Report Abuse
15/03/2008 18:19:00

another draw back was diops yellow. i know im not a big fan of him - but in away games, he is one of the men you really want to have on your team - and he wont be for the next two games...
Report Abuse
15/03/2008 18:41:00

Both Muntari and Diop miss the next 2, saves resting them I suppose, thing is if Mendes and Davis/Hughes come in, what then at West Brom?
Report Abuse
15/03/2008 19:21:00

the suspensions shouldnt affect us too much, mendes and davis can replace them pretty well
Report Abuse
15/03/2008 19:59:00

Why does Diop miss the next 2? Thought the deadline when bookings dont count toward a ban has passed??
Report Abuse
15/03/2008 20:05:00

Diop 10 bookings for the season! And he missed a month in Africa!
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15/03/2008 20:20:00

Yea, i'm wrong, thought I'd read that somewhere.
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15/03/2008 23:36:00

Diop and Muntari out for the next 2 games will give 2 other players chance to step up and show what they are worth. It will also show if we have enough depth in those areas for next season. Not the best way of finding out but it could answer a few questions most of us have about the team if we get to Europe.
Report Abuse
15/03/2008 23:42:00

Fouls are something HR has to address with the players. We had about 5 fouls to Villas 1 and this is happening most weeks. I know we play a physical game but refs are going to start getting tougher if it continues like this. Muntari got red because he got away with a number of fouls and then did a silly and blatent one. Diop was a bit unlucky but I think he was a scapegoat for the rest of the team. We will suffer when it really matters if we keep going this way.
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15/03/2008 23:47:00

I'm sure Mendes is up for a crack at his old team and it does indeed give some players who've been sitting on the bench a shot at it. I wonder if he'll get creative and move GJ up to right midfield ? (nah...not Arry !) Anyway, what a huge 3 pts.
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16/03/2008 00:37:00

Didn't get to see the game but I often wonder if the bigger players tend to get nailed for fouls more often than other guys. Crouch seems to get picked on quite a bit in that regard. The bigger you are the more you stand with nowhere to hide. As was said, HR really does need to address it though since teams get a reputation with the refs. We don't want to be down to 10 men in the cup final !
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16/03/2008 00:42:00

The possession stats were about 56% to Villa. It could be argued that with that amount of possesssion they should have won and also that a good team would have made us pay. But Villa are a good team and Pompey looked the more dangerous in attack. Man U couldn't score and they are a good team and had even more of the possession. We conceded 2 goals against Brum but scored 4. This style of play, although it does nothing for my heart, seems to suit us and we keep winning. May it continue for a long time. Well done everyone in the team.
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16/03/2008 00:44:00

...not that I'm assuming we're in the cup final yet (no jinxes here !)
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16/03/2008 00:45:00

hear hear !
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16/03/2008 00:46:00

Toronto, I don't think it is just the bigger players. Muntari isn't a giant. HR has encouraged them to be more physical and Muntari came with a reputation of being that way. Someone recently has shown the players how to do a shoulder barge , shoulder to shoulder., which is quite legal provided it is does not use excessive force and is done whilst going for the ball. Some of our players are using it too often and very close to being called for a fouls at times. If this goes on 2 things will happen; the other team will retaliate and some nasty incidents could occur and refs will clamp down on it and penalties will be given out more frequently. I am all for a physical game and it is a contact sport but a 5 to 1 foul ratio against Pompey is a bit over the top.
Report Abuse
16/03/2008 04:28:00

in the first half, we commited 9 fouls to villas 2 (i think). in the second half, villa were the"dirtier team" - although i cant remember the exact statistics, martin o'neil clearly told them to go out and be more physical. Pompeys style of play at the moment is tearing apart teams that play good football, as our defence is one of the best in the leagues, and our goalkeeper IS the best in the league. however when we come up against sides that are looking to close S down, then we could struggle to break them down. birmingham came to play good football, as they thought we might crumple as spurs did. villa came to play good football as it is the only way they know. but when we get to other more physical matches, i think we could struggle!
Report Abuse
16/03/2008 10:00:00

you see i disagree tbh carpet i think the more physical matches are the ones we can do fine in - we're a big, strong, powerful outfit now and can hold our own in that kind of battle, when we come up against pace is when i think we can struggle as altho we dont have a team of slouches, some of the midfield and defence are lacking abit of this pace, but luckily most make up for this lack of pace with fantastic positional sense...
Report Abuse
16/03/2008 11:13:00

I'm with Pompeyrugabout powerful teams. The stats given out over hear showed we were the team with the most fouls by a long way. I don't think fouls necessarily make any team a dirty team. Fouls are often the result of interpretation by the ref. If a team consistantly show studs, tackle players and then that player needs treatment etc then you have a dirty team. Way back in the fifties Bolton were a dirty team. The older gentlemen on here will remember if we were playing Bolton we made sure the stretcher was in good repair as we knew we would need it for someone. We, myself included, have been saying all season "when we come up against this team or that team we will get killed" or words to that effect. Occasionaly we have. Often we have played dull football. Often we have been lucky. Lately we have played better football that tactically suited the occasion and players have responded and it has been entertaining. So I think the "when we meet" scenario should be thrown out the window. We are already meeting and beating most of the "when we meet" teams.
Report Abuse
16/03/2008 11:48:00

The traditional shoulder charge is not fully understood or recognised by todays referees, especially those abroad. It has been replaced to a large extent in the modern game by petty fouls. The shoulder charge is a combination of strength and balance and if used against an unbalanced player is seen as an extreme action, a la Old Trafford.
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16/03/2008 12:56:00

A great result against a good team. The difference was the keepers, ours was brilliant, again. There's wasn't, again. We the chances & luck & that was enough. When you think Villa had scored in every game since September & had only 2 on the road, it's an impressive 3 pts. The loss od Diop & Muntari should help try others before the 'game that matters'. We can't afford anymore suspensions either.
Report Abuse
16/03/2008 19:58:00

If this was the week that was gonna make or break our season we've done a preety good job.. They're can be many of us out there who would have a predicted that we would beat Manure Brum & Villa all within the space of 8 days.. Fantastic week Harrys boys are doing a cracking job... AND THE BLUES GO MARCHING ON ON ON >>
Report Abuse
17/03/2008 06:47:00

looking at the foul ratio again, we have to remember that lots of those fouls are when we lose the ball and go back to win it - some 'keep the ball' practice would work wonders I reckon, especially from deep defense to mid-field - seems like we are hoofing far too much on the one hand and giving it away on 10 yd passes on the other. I thought we solved the latter when Matty left.
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17/03/2008 09:33:00


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