Date:Saturday December 9 2006
Saturday 09-12-06, 3pm
With four games in fourteen days, all but one on the road after this the home game with Everton today defeat wasn't an option with victory not quite a must but not far from it! We didn't disappoint as Pompey won a top-flight game at home against the Toffees for the first time in almost 50-years!
A second booking last week equalling a red against Villa saw Pedro Mendes suspended so Sean Davis came in and with Lomana LuaLua ruled out through injury Benjani started, other than that it was as you were.
Two superb volleyed strikes in the first half, the first from Matty Taylor, a screamer from a least 40-yards (that's goal of the month wrapped up for Matty!) the second from Kanu saw us go in at half time 2-0 up and so it stayed.
Victory moves us back up to third for at least 24-hours.
The early exchanges saw the two teams sizing each other up with little in the way of goal effort, then suddenly in the 14th minute the game burst into life in amazing fashion!
Matty Taylor, no stranger to spectacular long-range efforts scored one that by his standards was something else! As the ball dropped to him some 40 to 45-yards out he volleyed Pompey ahead. Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard stood rooted to the spot as the ball dipped in to send the Pompey fans wild.
With their first real effort on 20 minutes Everton could have found themselves level. A free kick gave Everton the chance to send men forward and from Alan Stubbs' delivery Joleon Lescott flicked on to find James Beattie who's header was saved by the very much inform David James, he parried the effort to safety.
James safely claimed a second Beattie header before the Pompey lead was doubled shortly after the 25-minute mark. Gary O'Neil's cross from the right was met by Kanu who beat Howard into the corner with another superb volley, Pompey were two up and looking comfortable with less than half an hour on the clock.
The lively Benjani was next to try his luck from range, but his 25-yarder ended up going high of the target and then with Pompey looking for a hat trick of superb strikes when seeing Howard off his line Sean Davis looked to chip the American, but he recovered to save. Davis' wallet was saved the costs of an appointment with the barbers…for another week at least!
Further efforts from Benjani, with a header safely caught by Howard and a 25-yard curling Taylor free kick that went over the bar came before half time.
Everton we're finding this game surprisingly harder than I had expected and in order to change things a double substitution was made a half time. James McFadden came on for David Weir and the Victor Anichebe replaced the ineffective and massively abused former scummer James Beattie.
Half chances came and went for Everton's Andy Johnson, his header comfortably saved by James and Davis again tried his luck from range but again his effort was comfortably caught by Howard as the second half started passing with little incident, but so long as Pompey won in the end I would be more than happy.
A worrying moment for Pompey though came with just under half an hour to play, having nutmeged Howard Benjani then collided with the goalkeeper so with us down to the bare bones in terms of striking options we held our breaths as Benji was withdrawn, Rudolph Douala coming on to replace him.
Glen Johnson and another Andy Johnson effort failed to alter the score line as we cruised for the most part of the second forty-five minutes until Everton reminded us that the game was not yet won. With fifteen minutes to play Andy Van Der Meyde's corner was headed by Joseph Yobo, forcing James into a smart save to keep our two-goal lead intact.
Everton substitutes Anichebe and James Vaughan both put close range headers wide shortly after before another worrying site saw Kanu withdrawn with an injury too, Niko Kranjcar coming on with just under ten minutes to play.
Lee Carsley forced James into another fine save late on before a standard practice time wasting effort saw Richard Hughes come on in place of Sean Davis. There was still time for Douala to be denied a third for Pompey in injury time as we overall strolled to a comfortable win.
A win, and largely comfortable win at that was far from what I expected against our bogey team of the past 49-years! The two superb strikes took the wind out of Everton's already depleted sails to give us what could turn out to be a massive three points. Any three points are massive but this against a real rival to our own position could prove huge.
Before the game I said that three points wasn't a must, but it wasn't far from it. How important this could prove to be in our quest to remain in the top six at least with the January sales coming around remains to be seem, but will certainly be a bonus two points as I'm sure many (if honest) would have settled for a point here.
The worrying sites of injuries to Benjani and Kanu are far from welcome, especially with Andrew Cole and Lomana LuaLua almost certainly out until the end of the year, if not until the start of the new one. Hopefully they aren't too serious and were merely precautionary (as I suspect) so at least one can return to lead the line in the lone striker role against Arsenal next week, which Redknapp is almost certain to deploy in any case.
PLAY UP POMPEY!!!
Pompey - Matty Taylor 14, Kanu 26
Sean Davis (Richard Hughes 90)
Kanu (Niko Kranjcar 82)
Benjani (Rudolph Douala 61)
Substitutes Not Used
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Date:Saturday December 9 2006
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