Writer: Josh Perry
Date:Saturday August 28 2010
Portsmouth 0-2 Cardiff City - From Wembley, to the harsh realities of the Championship.
It is amazing to think that only two years ago, Portsmouth and Cardiff were battling it out to become the 2008 FA Cup winners.
Pompey's side was littered with stars, featuring names such as Lassana Diarra, Sulley Muntari and Niko Kranjcar.
How times have changed.
Back then, the Blues were massive favourites to lift the Cup. However, Cardiff travelled to Fratton Park today seeking revenge, with a star of their own - Craig Bellamy.
Pompey manager Steve Cotterill brought John Utaka back into the side, leaving out Blues top scorer Nadir Ciftci. The decision seemed to pay off too, with Utaka looking lively and eager to get in behind the Cardiff defence.
Early on, Marc Wilson nearly marked his farewell game with a spectacular free kick that was well saved by Bluebirds goalkeeper David Marshall.
However, after a bright start from Cotterill's men, the Welsh-side always looked deadly on the counter attack. They had Chris Burke on one wing and Craig Bellamy on the other, giving them pace in abundance. As a result, the Bluebirds should have taken an early lead. Bellamy blasted over from just ten yards out - A real sitter by his standards.
The warning signs were there for Pompey and with this in mind the Blues were pushing deeper and deeper with every Cardiff attack.
Peter Whittingham almost scored a freak effort as his corner rattled the frame of the goal and bounced out, in what was an extremely nervy few minutes for the home side.
Finally though, the deadlock was broken. On the halfway line, Marc Wilson was horribly caught in possession by Cardiff midfielder Danny Drinkwater. The on-loan Man Utd midfielder then tried a through ball to team mate Jay Bothroyd but instead found the shin of Hayden Mullins and the ball cannoned into the bottom corner - A dreadfully unlucky goal to concede by anyone's standards.
Half time was looming and David Nugent was gifted Pompey's best chance of the game as he saw his volley produce an incredible save out of Marshall. The rebound fell to Utaka
who blazed over. It just wasn't going to be Pompey's day.
This belief was then reinforced as only three minutes after the restart, comical defending by the Home side gifted Jay Bothroyd with one of the easiest goals he'll ever score in his career. A shambles of a mix up between Jamie Ashdown and Ibrahima Sonko presented Bothroyd with an empty net. There was no coming back for Cotterill's troops now.
Pompey's only ever attacking threat was from set pieces and even they were substandard today. From open play, they just looked lost with no direction.
Ibrahima Sonko and Aaron Mokoena proved once again they are a poor partnership at the back. Every time a ball came through the middle, they looked unable to cope. I can't help but think missing out on Ricardo Rocha really is going to cost Pompey.
It's hard to pick out any real positives for Steve Cotterill today. You can look at the fact that Cardiff are a very good side and will definitely be up there in the top six come the end of the season. However, from a Pompey point of view, they need to start picking up points quickly. We saw last season how much a bad start can affect the team. From then on, you are playing catch up with the rest.
If Cotterill doesn't bring in quality this week, and with the number of tough games the Blues have coming up - I'm struggling to see how they are going to come out of that dreaded relegation zone anytime soon.
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Date:Saturday August 28 2010
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