Date:Sunday March 13 2011
I spoke in my match preview about hoping the pressure was off and Pompey could now put in a display to please the home faithful, the score finished goaless, the game had few events apart from the first 15 mins and if there is anything worse than a goaless match, it is a match where all the intention is on the referee.
I don't like to hark on about referee's performances in reports, that detracts from the game itself, but for anyone that has seen 'toy story', think of the singing penguin who swallows his squeaker and you may just get a picture of how often referee Crossley blew his whistle.
The ref himself had the bodyshape of John Mcricick, hardly an athlete himself, but he represented the headmaster sort who needed everything to be just right before he carried the match on.
Pompey were unchanged once more, the bench however had the welcome sight of Liam Lawrence on it, a tonic in itself.
Pompey came closest in the first half, Herman Hreidarsson rattled the bar with a header from Cotterill's cross (not de laet BBC) the ball bounced down and was cleared away. moments later Nugent got the ball wide and crossed for Kitson who could only smash a shot into Rhys Williams on the line, either side and it would of been a certain goal.
Middlesbrough offered little as an attacking threat, it was half an hour before Barry Robson could test Ashdown who made a comfortable save.
As the half closed out Pompey had a big shout for a pen, Nugent raced onto a through ball and went down as he was leant on, the ref glanced at his lino but just got a big headshake, as the incident was right in front of me in the south stand, I can report that it was in the area and I reckon the lino didn't even see it, as my mate commented, he was so intent in keeping up with play he didn't even glance across to where the action was!
Nugent had an angled drive deflected out by a foot and then tried a 30 yarder that sailed over the bar.
At half-time it hadn't been too bad a game, but that was all to change as the ref decided to claim the spotlight in the second half.
I can honestlty say that very little happened second half, the ball was never allowed to be kept in play as the ref blew again and again, one highlight was the names of the 'boro subs, we had someone that sounded like 'Whose the mama' and oanother who appeared to be 'M&S'
Hogg got a yellow for a bad old tackle and then Kitson got one for one of those tackles that was nothing, going in to try and block a clearance.
As time ticked on Lawrence replaced Ward and Kanu came on to try and liven up a dead rubber.
Nugent finally had a header punched clear and Ashdown got down well to preserve another clean sheet.
That was that, a real flat game, ruined by a ref who was 'pernickey' Steve Cotterill's words not mine, and all in front of Pompey's biggest home crowd of the new year.
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Date:Sunday March 13 2011
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