Vital Football

Pompey 1-4 West Ham

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West Ham


Fri 26-12-08, 1pm



Portsmouth played hosts to West Ham in a Boxing Day thriller, with the home side looking for three points to turnaround their recent bad run of form. Marc Wilson made his first league start in place of Noe Pamarot, and Glen Little and Nadir Belhadj replaced Papa Bouba Diop and Hermann Hreidarsson respectively.

West Ham had the best of the early play, with Bellamy wasting a free kick and Jack Collison looking lively down their left. Pompey were wasteful with their crosses, until Jermain Defoe found Glen Little in plenty of space out wide. Little's ball in was just about controlled by Crouch, who laid the ball inside for Belhadj to slide home the opener.

This seemed to inspire Portsmouth, who then passed the ball around with ease, but constantly lacked the final ball in good situations. West Ham were reliant on Craig Bellamy, who was chasing down through balls and being a nuisance.

On 20 minutes, Little pointlessly gave away a free kick by clipping the attacker's heels, and was still in conversation with Steve Bennett when Noble took the free kick quickly. This caught Portsmouth cold, and the ball was worked to Collison on the edge of the area, who fired home through the legs of the unsighted David James.

Portsmouth came forward once again, with a cross being cleared as far as Sean Davis, who let loose with a fantastic volley, only for Rob Green, who had already saved a volley from Crouch, to dive down to his right to deny Davis his second goal of the season.

West Ham were still looking lively on the break, and Craig Bellamy almost put the visitors ahead when he latched onto a long ball, only to fire wide of the far post under pressure from Wilson. The West Ham goalscorer, Jack Collison, almost made it two when Little failed to clear when he had the chance, resulting in him playing a poor ball to David James. The attacker got to the ball before David James and when the ball came to Collison, his shot couldn't beat Sol Campbell on the line.

Never to be outdone, Rob Green made a similar mistake at the other end, and this time it was Glen Little who failed to make the England international pay.

Portsmouth should have had a penalty when Peter Crouch was held by Davenport in the area, but Bennett yet again waved play on, his favoured decision all game long. Portsmouth, however, did get a penalty in injury time, when Crouch has held this time by Lucas Neill. The ineffective Jermain Defoe confidently stepped up, only to fire wide of the left hand post. Defoe joined many names in recent years to fail to score a penalty at the Milton End, most memorably Benjani in the last minute of the same fixture last year.

The second half yet again began lively, with Portsmouth putting constant pressure on the West Ham goal. Defoe finally found himself in space, only to fire straight at Green. Kranjcar was equally wasteful, shooting high and wide whenever he was given the opportunity. Belhadj and Little looked the most likely source of a goal, but the crosses came to nothing, until West Ham managed to break from one, resulting in Carlton Cole finding the net after Bellamy had made a good run to set up Collison, who`s shot crashed back of the post for the former Chelsea man to slot home.

Despite this setback Portsmouth kept pressuring, and with Traore poised to come on, exceptional work yet again by Glen Little forced a corner. Marc Wilson won the aerial challenge, only to see his header crash back of the post into the path of Kranjcar. The Croatian moved away from goal, then was needlessly dispossessed by Ilunga, who cleared the ball into the path of Bellamy. The pacy Welshman almost rounded James, who tipped the ball to the side, only for Bellamy to rifle West Ham`s third goal into the net.

Traore was subsequently brought on, but for some reason he replaced Glen Little, who was having an exceptional game compared to Kranjcar. Kanu was also brought on, and despite the booing from the fans, it was the correct decision to bring off Defoe, who hasn't played well for a long time, and wasn't on his game yet again today.

Despite the substitutions, and all the effort from Traore, Portsmouth just couldn't grab a goal back, and it was no surprise when West Ham yet again scored on the break. Cole found himself inside the area, and squared for Bellamy to score his second of the game.

The rest of the game was played out without any incident of note. Fratton Park was half-empty when the whistle went, but the fans who stayed made the most of the occasion with a verse of "Always look on the bright side of life".

Star Player
The only positive performances were from Belhadj and Little. Belhadj gave his all and was a constant threat all game, whilst Little put in probably the right-midfield performance of the season from a Portsmouth player (apart from Johnson vs Vitoria). Yes he made some mistakes, but he was tricky and put in the effort, and was a constant thorn in West Ham`s side. Crouch, Davis and Hughes gave their all yet again, and deserve a mention ahead of players like Defoe, Kranjcar and Campbell. The latter two haven't put in a good performance between them since returning from injury, and it would be wise to drop these two just to show them that they aren't "untouchable".

Next Up
Next up for Portsmouth is Arsenal away on Sunday, a game that could be messy if we put in another performance like we have done against Newcastle, Bolton and West Ham. Next up at Fratton in the league is Man City, who will be looking to add to the 6 that they put past us in the opposite fixture back in September. First at Fratton is the first game in our FA Cup defence, with Bristol City looking to upset the odds and put their name in the hat for the fourth round draw.


Join the Vital Pompey Debate

Date:Friday December 26 2008
Time: 3:15PM


You were abysmal today, Adams has to find a solution fast or look for a new job. Good luck for the rest of the season!
26/12/2008 15:18:00
you win and lose as a team dont you - we were poor, the players need to look at themselves long and hard, but adams needs to have a long hard think too... again his tactical changes were wrong today.
what has happened to our defence? we built our success on it, now its gone to pot. campbell is past it, i think too much is being done to cover for his inability to perfrom - he might be adams' mate but if he doesnt get him out of the side soon he will lose his job for sure, if kaboul is fit to face arsenal he must play.
26/12/2008 15:22:00
Well at this point 5 or 6 wins would keep us in the prem, but I really don't see where they would come from. Perhaps a number of the first team players need to be dropped so they know that no matter how bad they perform they won't be everpresents. For example James, Defoe, Kranjcar, Campbell, etc. We have really never needed GON more!
26/12/2008 15:54:00
Now tell me Adams is the right man! God help us!!!!
26/12/2008 16:08:00
I am speechless after that abysmal performance. To take the lead and then seem totally disinterested as a team has no excuses. Very few out there gave any effort and that MUST not continue!!
26/12/2008 17:03:00
Wow! What a howler that was. Did anyone see the clips of Phil Brown at half time at the Man City game? They were down 4-0 and he made all the players sit on the grass and gave them a thorough bollocking. Ok, it didn't do the trick (current score 5-1) but an interesting tactic in trying to shame the players into pulling their socks up.
26/12/2008 17:19:00
1-0 and lose absoultly rubbish we have been for the past 3 weeks.Our so called top players are not proforming.Defoe head is elsewhere , crouch is just poo the amount of chances he has and after around 6 he has he scores but he didnt today except from a great touch for the belhadj goal what else did he do ? Campbell is pass it now cant wait till kaboul is back.When we appointed adams i know this was the wrong desicion and it proves i am right (for a first).We only appointed him because he was the cheapest option for a little extra avram grant would ave came in and done a job.I WANT ADAMS OUT !!!!!!!!
stfc ballboy
26/12/2008 17:21:00
My doomed chickens came home to roast today. If you're not aware we are in dire straits facing a relegation battle after today, god help you & us. Awful, to capitualte like that. If the star individiuals don't want to perform for Pompey, then get rid.
26/12/2008 17:55:00
I don't know what to do now. Not looking forward to the trip to the Emirates on Sunday, that's for sure. I guess as fans all we can really do (apart from the wailing and gnashing of teeth) is continue to get behind the team.
26/12/2008 18:18:00
tickets all booked for a good day out on sunday. I have every faith tony and co. will deliver...
26/12/2008 22:41:00
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