Pompey 2-0 Wigan
Sat 29-03-08, 3pm
Clearly a little more than 1 eye was on Wembley next week but we still had an important league game with Wigan today, and a game that I for one desperately wanted us to win - and win we did 2-0.
Suspensions meant some still missed out but injuries were not really a problem although an injury did rule out Lucien Aubey who dropped out to be replaced be the returning Sol Campbell, but Hermann Hreidarsson was passed fit so reverted back to left back. Richard Hughes and Kanu dropped out - Hughes to the bench - as Milan Baros and Jermain Defoe returned to lead the line.
Jermain Defoe set his record, in between his first and his second - deep into injury time - David James saved a penalty and made a couple of crucial saves.
Wigan made a bright start but we had the first chance of the afternoon - Chris Kirkland was forced to turn Hermann Hreidarsson's effort round the post for a corner.
Jermain Defoe had his first chance to set the goalscoring record of goals in the opening home Pompey games but he blazed over, immediately after Wigan broke and Emile Heskey picked out Antonio Valencia who seemed certain to score but Glen Johnson got back to clear of the line via the bar then his follow up was deflected wide.
The game had been fairly even, if not spectacular when good and positive play from John Utaka - the kind of play that you want to se from him, and the kind we know he is capable of - saw him cause problems and his run created the opening goal of the game. Eventually the ball fell to Defoe and the predator turned the ball home from a tight angle to become a Pompey record holder, scoring in his 5th successive home game at the start of his Pompey career.
This goal, and the part he played seemed to rejuvenate Utaka who then played a part in a chance that we had right after when Niko Kranjcar was denied by a fantastic save from Kirkland from 30 yards.
Not the greatest half ever, but at least we were ahead, which was the main thing. After a fairly even half until we scored we then looked more in control after that so you expected more in the 2nd half.
Wigan started the 2nd half very brightly, immediately going on the offensive with David James forced into a save from Paul Scharner.
A chance came and went for Milan Baros, probably his final decision making let him down, then an inspired Utaka today went on a fantastic run after a good Pompey move but sadly his effort went into the side netting, but it would have been a typical Utaka goal.
Something that we did not want to see at all happened on the hour mark, Hreidarsson picked up an injury that forced him off - down to 10 men incredibly Alan Wiley awarded a penalty for what he somehow saw as a foul on Valencia. Up stepped Ryan Taylor but as he has so many times this season James made the fantastic save low down to keep it out and got up do enough to put off Taylor who blazed the rebound over… eventually Lauren came on.
With the semi final in mind Baros was removed as Dave Nugent made his Pompey return for the final 25 minutes of the game. The final change - a few minutes later - saw the impressive Utaka taken off, in what appeared a precautionary measure with Richard Hughes coming on.
As Wigan enjoyed a good spell of possession James came to our rescue as he managed to deny Heskey when played through. As the game went on we remained fairly comfortable but did require another fantastic save from James to deny Antoine Sibierski.
The game flowed from end to end for the final 10 minutes as Wigan threw everyone on and as was something you thought would happen, with virtually the final play of the game Defoe was put through to secure the win in the last of 4 minutes of injury time.
I think it was quite obvious that the FA cup was playing on the minds of some but they put in a good shift to be fair and we got the job done, credit to Wigan who came and had a go they must have had at least 4 strikers on the pitch at the end. You cannot help but think that if we had stepped it up though we could have scored 3 or 4, but then again if it was not for David James we might not have even won.
It was a real shame to see Hermann Hreidarsson go off, but hopefully he can be fit, it was also a disappointment to see John Utaka also have to go off, but I think his was more precautionary than anything. Again you are left wishing that Jermain Defoe was not cup tied, but at least he got his record, which I had no doubt he would.
We know what time it is now fellas… Wembley, Wembley we're the boys - and girls - from Portsmouth and we're off to Wembley!
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Pompey 2 - Jermain Defoe 31, 90
Hermann Hreidarsson (Lauren 63)
John Utaka (Richard Hughes 71)
Milan Baros (Dave Nugent 67)
Substitutes Not Used