Stoke 2-2 Pompey
Sat 21-02-09, 3pm
The team was the same one which beat city last week, but with Nuge helping out more in midfield, so a 4-5-1 with Crouch upfront.
Neither team started brightly, with a drab opening 45 minutes. At times there were a few nice interchanges, mainly between Johnson and Pennant, but nothing to get out of your seat for. Stoke's tactic of booting it up to the Striker seemed to be effective, with Sidibe seeming to win every header. Davis and Basinas were two inconsistent with their passing, and Stoke were finding difficult to break down.
In the second half, more of the same, with Herman getting into a tangle with Lawrence, which resolved with both players earning a yellow card. We were defending a little better at the back with James having very little to do and the midfield helping out when needed. Stoke seemed to put all their effort on their huge striker and with him starting to lose energy we started to up the possession.
Around the midway point of the second half, Basinas, who had a very average game, was replaced by Mullins and for me that was a sound decision by Hart. Although he didn't do much better then Basinas he was the extra energy needed in midfield and a few minutes later we took the lead.
Kranjcar cut inside on the left, only to be tackled. The ball found its way to Nuge who played a neat passed into Kranjcar who had made a run back into the box, took it well and finished neatly into the bottom corner. Get In! Relieve flowed out of both fans and players and I expected a comfortable last 20 minutes!
However, 10 seconds later I had my head in my hands as we conceded a penalty! Straight from kick-off, a long ball was kicked all the way into our penalty area where Johnson, who was under no pressure appeared to handle the ball! From my angle, it was very difficult to tell, but the ref, who was swayed by the optimistic home support blew his whistle. Beattie kept his cool under chants of 'scummer' and buried it to make it 1-1. At this point, someone behind me kicked half my chair to pieces as Beattie taunted the away support.
It got worse before it got better as a few minutes after conceding the ball was played over to the right where bad marking and no tackling led to a Stoke player taking a volley from the edge of the area, which passed all the players except Beattie who headed home. I thought it was offside, the ref thought it offside as he immediately looked towards the linesman, but the goal stood. And yet again Beattie celebrated like a wild animal that he is in front of us.
At this point the Pompey fans and players were shocked and it's fair to say a little angry by the decisions of the referee and the immediate reply from Stoke. A ghostly image of Tony Adams crept into my mind at this point as we really did hit the self destruct button. However, Paul Hart and Brian Kidd had other ideas of how this game was going to finish, bringing on Belhadj and Kanu for Nugent and Kranjcar, with Herman pushing up to LW.
When we conceded the second, amongst all the confusion and complaints, one man took the ball from our net strode across our half of the pitch and placed it down at the centre. Gave encouragement to the team, and added reassurance that the game was not over, Sol Campbell may have his critics of late, but for me, is still a brilliant player, and worthy of the captains armband. Although I am a big fan of Sean Davis I also witnessed him ranting and raving and perhaps is a little too passionate to take up the position.
The game restarted, with the Stoke fans all singing along mocking our descent into abyss. However, good possession, and use of the kitchen sink managed to break the Stoke team, as a ball in from Pennant (who I thought had a good game) found Herman on the edge of the area, who's speculative effort took a huge deflection and went in the Stoke net. 2-2! We went wild, so did the players, and so did Hart. Took a glance at where Beattie was standing to see him beating the ground with his fists! Karma got him!
Full time came, and the team celebrated as if we had won. Although I thought once we scored, all three points where a certainty, a draw under circumstances is a great result.
The players left with great applause, and Beattie, who solemnly walked past us, got a raging response, who couldn't do anything except look on the floor, what a ____. The way Hart was congratulating with the players makes me wonder if he's just a stand in, and the way the players responded to Hart makes wonder if we should get a new manager in. He's had an immediate effect and although the performance today wasn't brilliant, Stoke have a great record at home, and coming from behind shows the character we need to stay in the division. Well done Pompey!
MOM: Got to be the Herminator, had Lawrence in his pocket most of the game and came up with the goods at the other end as well, what a legend!
PLAY UP POMPEY!