Pompey 0-0 Newcastle
Sat 12-04-08, 5.15pm
Newcastle were the next club that we looked to overcome as we looked to keep our good run going, and keep the pressure on Everton for 5th - and maybe even Liverpool for 4th? The barcodes came to Fratton and left with a point after an entertaining enough 0-0 draw.
Harry Redknapp made 3 changes from the win over West Ham, Arnold Mvuemba, Pedro Mendes and Dave Nugent dropped out - the latter two to the bench. The men that came in were Sean Davis, Kanu and Jermain Defoe. I think that Nugent can count himself very unlucky not to have kept his place alongside Defoe - but then again Kanu is 'the golden boy'…
Genuine clear cut chances were few and far between for both sides, so in the end once again we had to settle for another Fratton Park draw - but it was an enjoyable enough one really.
Obafemi Martins tried his luck 'Matt Taylor style' in the opening seconds but not even the sun could catch David James out as he safely claimed his effort from near half way.
It was a good opening to the game, nice and open with half chances to both sides in the opening 20 minutes, but they were coming from distance really and neither keeper being fully tested. Newcastle were looking to cause trouble on the break but were looking like a side that believed in their own ability again.
Chances remained at a premium for the remainder of the half but with half time approaching a strong claim for a Pompey penalty for a handball against Steven Taylor was not awarded by Phil Dowd. It seemed a nailed on one, with it coming up off his boot to his hand when blocking an effort from Kanu - but not nailed on according to the ref…
A good half, which was only lacking clear-cut chances, came to an end with the game locked in stalemate at 0-0.
James was having a bit of an off-day as early in the 2nd half he once again gave the ball away cheaply - as he had several times in the 1st half - but thankfully the attempted lob from distance by Geremi was off target.
Newcastle were increasing the pressure at the start of the 2nd half but suddenly we had a great chance to take the lead, against what would have been the run of play in the half. A fantastic ball through from Sulley Muntari went through to Jermain Defoe but his effort was off target, when really by his standards he should have done better. Then James had to save very well from Martins.
Good play between Glen Johnson and Kanu saw Johnson get his shot away but this was deflected away from the goal for a goal kick by Defoe, when it seemed to be hitting the target. Defoe was then denied by a Steve Harper save after a quick counter attack involving Johnson again.
As he has so often this season James once again saved us. Somehow he blocked a Michael Owen effort - how much he knew about it I do not know - for a corner. He then saved from Geremi moments after.
With around 15 minutes to go Harry Redknapp made his first change of the game with Kanu going off and Dave Nugent coming on, with him making an immediate impact putting the defence under pressure to win a corner.
As the game moved into the final 5 minutes again James came rushing out and did not get to the ball, but luckily he and we got away with it again…
With the game into injury time Niko Kranjcar beat several players - despite Joey Barton having a go at him, getting booked when the ball went dead - before laying back to Papa Bouba Diop who unsurprisingly did not hit the target and the game ended 0-0.
It was a good game, but we did not really offer enough in terms of clear-cut opportunities and Newcastle were marginally the better side - but it was a good game played between two good sides.
A few players did not really get into the game, if they had maybe we would have won but a draw was probably a fair result in the end. To be honest I thought Dave Nugent maybe could and should have come on sooner, I think that he was unlucky not to start in the first place to tell the truth. Had he been given more time maybe things would have been different?
With Everton dropping a couple of points earlier in the afternoon this was certainly a case of a missed opportunity and the gap stays at 4pts.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Papa Bouba Diop
Kanu (David Nugent 75)
Substitutes Not Used