Date:Wednesday November 29 2006
Wednesday 28-11-06, 8pm
A very, very tough game took us to in form Liverpool (well at least at Anfield) this evening. After four straight Premiership defeats on the road we were looking for something, anything! And we got a point.
With Dejan Stefanovic out following surgery Matty Taylor, who had been a doubt came in for the captain, Gary O'Neil took the armband.
As is so often the case in our away games Harry Redknapp went for his lone forward option, this being Benjani. Kanu and Sean Davis dropped out of Sunday's side, Richard Hughes and Niko Kranjcar coming in, Kanu took a place on the bench.
An inspired team performance battled out a 0-0 draw to stop the away day rot.
The first shot of the evening came from an unlikely source in Jamie Carragher. With the central defender playing in a midfield role to counter the injury crisis at Anfield he tried his luck early on from 20-yard but sent his effort wide of David James goal.
Carragher's first minute effort was followed minutes later by Peter Crouch's similar ranged effort, which landed in the grateful hands of James.
After Luis Garcia had forced James to make another save, all be it a simple one John Arne Riise tried his luck from 25-yards before another unlikely source Sami Hyypia tried an audacious effort from all of 30-yards, which failed to trouble James although he was stretching for it.
Between Garcia and Crouch's previously mentioned items Steven Gerrard attempted a 20-yard effort from a free kick, given for Noe Pamarot's foul on Gerrard. He could only shot over the bar, followed by Pompey's first effort on goal of the match. Matty Taylor's 35-yard free kick was never troubling Jose Reina.
The final pass was often lacking form Liverpool and even though Luis Garcia again got on the end of one cross, Peter Crouch another before Garcia completed his hat trick of efforts then after none of the headers caused James any problem, although the latter Garcia effort went into the side netting.
Before the half was out Liverpool captain Gerrard would try his luck again from range before Garcia again found himself on the end of another Steve Finnan cross, yet once again neither tested James.
A well organised a stubborn Pompey back line had made it through to half time against a team very much in form at home at 0-0.
David James came out to a great reception from the Liverpool fans in the second half in acknowledgment to all he had achieved with the club despite his "calamity James" tag, which was nice to see.
Gerrard opened the second half as he had ended the first with another trademark long-range effort, this time James was needed to save the England International's 20-yard drive via a deflection.
James did save well from Garcia early in the second half, spreading himself well to deny him having scrambled the ball away in the first place. He was them helped out by Pamarot and Sol Campbell to clear away as Garcia threatened the Pompey goal, I was losing track of the efforts the Spaniard was having!
A rare Pompey foray forward saw us win a corner resulting in an even rarer effort on goal. As the clock ticked round to the hour mark Taylor had a pop from 25-yards, but Carragher blocked this. David Thompson registered an effort on goal at least for Pompey soon after but his 25-yard effort against his former team was never troubling the scorers.
The injury problems were not only of concern for Liverpool as we all know we have injury problems of our own stacking up, this saw Taylor having to play despite carrying an injury, but we were left more concerned on 69 minutes as Pedro Mendes had to be withdrawn with an injury in place of Manuel Fernandes.
With the Liverpool crowd frustrated this had filtered its way through to the players and the again disappointing Jermaine Pennant, a man we had been heavily linked to in the summer. He picked up a booking due to his frustration of another disappointing night of below par delivery.
As time ran out and we remained strong but a change was needed. Benjani, who had again worked hard for the cause came off with 8 minutes to play with the Premierships joint-leading scoring Kanu coming on in his place.
With just two minutes to play Liverpool had that clear cut opportunity they had been seeking for most of the second half, probably most of the match as Gerrard got onto the end of Dirk Kuyt's cross but as with an earlier Garcia effort could only head into the side netting.
As the match neared a fifth minute of injury time a means of time wasting saw Niko Kranjcar removed with Andy O'Brien brought on to add that little bit of extra defensive support, but it wasn't needed as full time was called soon after.
On reflection I say Jamo saved us but it was a team effort, he made a few saves and claimed other crosses but it was a team effort, and a strong team effort.
Not a single effort on target in 180 minutes of football tells its own story but this was a much better and far better organised Pompey performance than that against Newcastle, which saw us come away from Anfield with a hard earned point.
We were always going to head to Anfield in search of a point but unlike the previous four away games against Spurs, Chelsea, Man United and of course Newcastle we got what we set out for.
The point sees us back up to third on goal difference and if we can just keep battling out games like this and winning at home until January with some new players arriving (the higher we are the better chance of higher quality players arriving we'll have) next year should see us approaching away games a little more adventurously.
I think we would have all taken this before the game, I was certain we'd end with zero in the goals column but wasn't so certain Liverpool would.
Bring on Villa on Saturday, its all set up for a good game as we need to win our home games, they will not want to lose a second successive match having lost at home to City tonight 3-1.
Pedro Mendes (Manuel Fernandes 69)
Gary O'Neil (c)
Niko Kranjcar (Andy O'Brien 90)
Benjani (Kanu 82)
Substitutes Not Used
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Date:Wednesday November 29 2006
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