Pompey 2-0 Spurs
Sun 28-09-08, 1.30pm
Trouble for two-point Tottenham as Pompey grab deserved win
Bottom of the table Tottenham Hotspur were the visitors to "The Furnace" Fratton Park this afternoon as Portsmouth looked to turn around a bad run of form, having conceded ten goals in the last two games.
There were multiple key talking points before the game, as Portsmouth recalled several fit-again players. Lassana Diarra, Armand Traore, Jermain Defoe and Sol Campbell all returned having been absent for the midweek Carling Cup defeat to last year's finalists. There was also a first start for Glen Little, in a switch that finally completed the highly anticipated and aptly named "Glen-Glen" combination down the right side. For the visitors, Matthew Dawson, Gilberto and David Bentley replaced Ledley King, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon.
Other topics on the lips of the Fratton Faithful were naturally Glen Johnson's new hairstyle, the absence of John Westwood and of course, the fact that John Utaka has seemingly given his tangerine boots to Noe Pamarot.
Spurs kicked off in the scorching sunshine, with Jermain Defoe out to prove to the Londoner's that they made a mistake in selling him. And it wasn't long before the England striker had the ball in the net, nicely latching onto a Peter Crouch flick-on and calmly burying the ball beyond Gomes, before realising that he had just strayed offside.
The next passage of play was dominated by the home side, with Richard Hughes twice having fantastic volleys saved by the impressive Gomes, the first of which was a ferocious sliding effort from outside the area, that unfortunately swung nicely for the Tottenham keeper.
Minutes later Pompey should have had a penalty, with Lassana Diarra working his magic from a throw-in near the corner flag, only to be dragged away from the ball by a white shirt. Fortunately for the home side, the ball was only cleared as far as Johnson, who won a free kick in a good position. From the resulting set-piece, Glen Little whipped in a tricky cross that appeared to strike Jermaine Jenas' arm. This time the referee did award Portsmouth the penalty that they deserved, and Jermain Defoe gladly stepped up to bury the ball into the bottom corner of the net, despite the best attempts of Gomes.
There was just enough time before the break for Spurs to finally put pressure on the leaky Portsmouth defence, but the home team managed to hold strong and go into half-time with a deserved lead.
Juande Ramos' side were very poor in the first half, and had it not been for Gomes, Pompey could have been 3 or 4 goals to the good. The Tottenham manager clearly thought the same, as he decided to bring on Aaron Lennon for the ineffective Gilberto. The long-term Portsmouth target didn't look at his physical best; I think it is fair to say that he had let himself go a bit. Unfit or not, Lennon was still very fast, and his pace down the left caused Pompey all sorts of problems, and it seemed only a matter of time until Spurs drew level.
At the other end Pompey weren't sitting back, with Belhadj and Traore linking up nicely to cross a few decent balls into the box, unfortunately they never troubled Gomes. Glen Little, who had been very disappointing in the first half (then again, it's not like Utaka would have done much better), came inside a lot more often, and showed some nice touches before he was replaced by the aforementioned John Utaka (now sporting green boots).
Tottenham were still coming forward, with the Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko playing like a different man to that of the first half. Spurs won several free kicks in dangerous positions, but luckily for Portsmouth nothing came of them. Lassana Diarra, usually Pompey's star player, had been marshalling the midfield like usual, but this time he was being quite reckless with his challenges, and having been booked in the first half, it was the general consensus amongst the fans sitting around me that he should be taken off before disaster struck.
Lennon was still causing Glen Johnson trouble, and from another mazy run we crossed the ball into the box, only for Diarra to block it with his hand. Luckily the referee didn't see it, and Spurs only got a corner for their troubles. No doubt the "Right Result" will be in touch soon to let us know that the score should have been 2-1!
Upfront for Portsmouth, Peter Crouch had been winning the ball all afternoon, and he started a move with a nice flick onto his fellow strike partner. Defoe then turned nicely, before setting up Armand Traore to release a furious strike at goal. For once Gomes was unable to hold the shot, and Peter Crouch was on hand to finish off a move that he created, for his first goal in front of the Fratton faithful for many a year.
The second goal seemed to kill off any Tottenham fight back, and in fact it was Portsmouth who looked most likely to score, with Traore repeatedly getting beyond his marker. Diarra then picked p the ball on the left wing and went on the attack, only to put the ball a little too far in front of him, which resulted in the Frenchman diving in at the feet of Matt Dawson. Despite not getting the man, it was a reckless challenge and he had been given about eight separate "last warnings", so it was only fair that he was dismissed. The sending off meant that Harry pulled off Defoe and stuck on Younes Kaboul for the last five minutes.
Tottenham couldn't reduce the deficit, in a result that leaves hem rooted to the foot of the table. Portsmouth moved up to mid-table, and despite having won three and lost three, I'm sure pentonpompey will be quick to point out that from the corresponding fixtures from last season, we only gained one point, so we are eight points better off overall. I won't mention goal difference.
I'm not too sure whether I'm allowed to choose an opposition player, as Gomes was sublime (albeit slightly eccentric), and kept Spurs in the game. He came close to the penalty and bad defending let Crouch in for the second, so he pretty much had a blameless game. As far as Portsmouth are concerned, Armand Traore and Peter Crouch stuck out for me. This was by far Crouch's best game this season, he won the ball in the air plenty of times, wasn't bad at all on the ground and even defended competently when needed. Whether or not this had anything to do with Fabio being in the crowd, I'm not sure. Traore was up and down the wing all day and deserved the assist. It was a great team performance, but in my opinion these players proved themselves the most today. Defoe was great as always, Belhadj slid in and tried tricks, Hughes did his job and got a few pile drivers in too, and Jamo was never troubled.
A special mention goes to Younes Kaboul, who touched the ball twice. With his first touch he over hit a simple pass for a throw in, and with his second touch he ran in unnecessarily and tackled John Utaka.
Next up for Portsmouth is Guimaraes in the Uefa Cup, or Uefa Europa League or whatever they want to call it. With the European hangover out of the way, we should have our confidence back. We have a healthy lead, and if we score once then they need to score four times. Good luck to all those travelling to watch the game, I'll be thinking of you when I'm tucked up nicely in bed at half 11 on Thursday.
Next at Fratton Park is Stoke City a week today. The Potters have a tactic that they will no doubt employ, and as the all will be mostly in the air hopefully we won't miss Lassana too much! Everyone needs to make sure that we make ex-Scummer Rory Delap feel welcome.
And finally, the sweepstake for what colour boots John Utaka will wear is being organised over the next few hours...
PLAY UP POMPEY!