Pompey 0-1 Blackburn
Sun 27-04-08, 1.30pm
The FA cup is the main focus, but we cannot forget our league form leading up to the main event - if we do this then momentum lost could play a major role in our fate in that game. Hopes of 5th place would all but end if we could not beat Blackburn today... and we could not, going down to a solitary goal 1-0.
The long run of 166 consecutive premier league appearance for David James was ended by a calf injury, so Jamie Ashdown took over in goal. Glen Johnson returned from illness to replace the suspended Hermann Hreidarsson so Lauren moved to left back. Kanu came in for Niko Kranjcar, who took a place on the bench.
We looked good at times, put some good passing moves together but had no end product and that was the difference. Blackburn had one really, really good chance and Roque Santa Cruz ticked it away - we did not really have any real clear-cut chances at all.
Pompey made a bright stat to the game, putting together some good moves with some nice touches but were unable to find that final opportunity to deliver that killer final ball.
Sulley Muntari had the first real effort of note, his long range effort did not trouble Brad Friedel though. Soon after this Morten Gamst Pedersen beat Jamie Ashdown to the ball at the other end, but thankfully his header went harmlessly across the goal.
A couple of chances then came in quick succession for Pompey - firstly Chris Samba had to block Jermain Defoe's goalbound header after a fine delivery from John Utaka then from a Defoe through ball if Kanu had a little more pace - well anyway pace - he might have been able to get on the end of it.
Towards the end of the half Defoe had the ball in the net but he had long since been flagged offside, however as with so many of the calls in that half he was not offside! Once again he timed the run perfectly.
Defoe was looking the most likely to score and following a good run he shot not far wide of the right hand upright, then minutes later when shooting across goal he was narrowly wide on the other side.
Ashdown's one and only save of the 1st half came in the closing moments of it as he parried away former Pompey loanee Jason Roberts effort from distance. This parry fell to Roque Santa Cruz, but he was then robbed of the ball and we broke away. This dangerous break away was only ended by a foul by Steven Reid, which saw him rightly booked.
Harry Redknapp made a change at half time with Niko Kranjcar coming on for Utaka, with it said he had picked up a slight knock.
Pompey had most the play in the early stages of the 2nd half but then suddenly Blackburn put us under a period of sustained pressure. Santa Cruz had an effort blocked then Ashdown made a fine reflex save low down to keep out a header from Ryan Nelsen.
The frustration finally got too much for Defoe as after being flagged offside one to many times he snapped, his show of decent saw him booked. I do not think that one of his offside calls was right to be honest!
When probably our best chance of the game came and went this was when you thought we are not going to score today, well at least I did… Good work from Kanu in midfield saw an opening created and a glorious ball across the box really should have seen the ball at least hit the target, but as Muntari slid in he only managed to divert the effort across the goal. In fairness he was under pressure from a defender but should have still hit the target I feel.
Moment after this miss Blackburn were ahead... Ashdown punched the ball clear but this was picked up by Pedersen who fed in Santa Cruz. A good one two between him and Roberts saw Santa Cruz with a chance and he made no mistake. Our second change was made shortly after, off went Muntari - to obvious disgust - with Milan Baros coming on.
We pushed for an equaliser but never really looked like getting it, with Ashdown having to save well again from Roberts.
In injury time Friedel had to make a rare save - turning a header from Lassana Diarra away, but the save was comfortable.
I am disappointed to be honest guys, I thought we played well enough to warrant a point minimum - particularly in the 1st half - but we did not create enough clear-cut chances for all our possession and neat passing moves. Most of the offside calls were horrendously wrong, and had these been right things could have been different.
My dream of 5th place is now over, but I do not care what anyone says, and yep the cup is the most important thing but if we go into the cup final without good momentum we are in trouble! I would rather go into the cup final off the back of two victories in our final games, as I really do think it will make a difference. If we go into it off the back of a couple more defeats that would be 4 on the trot, we need some momentum to be built up again...
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Blackburn 1 - Roque Santa Cruz 75
John Utaka (Niko Kranjcar 45)
Papa Bouba Diop
Sulley Muntari (Milan Baros 77)
Substitutes Not Used