Pompey Undone By Bolton
Saturday 30-12-06, 3pm
A top five encounter saw us travel to the Reebok Stadium to face Bolton today with us starting the day a point behind our host, we ended it four behind after a 3-2 defeat.
Manuel Fernandes retained his place as he started what will almost certainly be his last game for Pompey before returning to Benfica. Kanu was always being rested for this game, Andrew Cole coming in to replace him with Benjani starting on the bench. Niko Kranjcar also came in to the starting line-up in place of the missing Pedro Mendes who must have an injury problem.
Matty Taylor gave us a great start lifting over Jussi Jaaskelainen to give us an early lead before Abdoulaye Faye brought Bolton level before Ivan Campo gave them the lead. Former transfer target Nicolas Anelka added a third in the second half before a late Andrew Cole strike gave us hope.
Pompey started the game the brighter of the two teams and within two minutes we were ahead! Returning to the starting line up Andrew Cole held up the ball before finding Matty Taylor who composed himself before firing home past Jussi Jaaskelainen from close range to the delight of the travelling supporters.
We were able to deal quite comfortably with Bolton's early response, dealing with the long balls and barrage of long throws they threw at us before Kevin Nolan had Bolton's first effort. With a habit of spectacular goals against us he lined up a volley which was saved by David James.
Bolton should have been levelled just after 20 minutes but Kevin Davies smashed a volley wide when he should have done better. Noe Pamarot headed a corner into the air but only to Davies who shot wide. The equaliser soon came though... After former target Nicolas Anelka had worked well to win a corner Gary Speed delivered, James came for a ball and struggled to get there only punching into the air and Abdoulaye Faye headed Bolton level from close range.
Niko Kranjcar's first involvement was to shot from range but this failed to trouble Jaaskelainen. Bolton then took the lead. A long ball from a long time reported Pompey target Tal Ben Haim found the head of Davies who's diving header was fantastically saved by James but fell invitingly to Ivan Campo who was in the right place at the right time to crash home five minutes before the break.
Pompey almost responded immediately and were nearly level through Cole but he was denied by a save from Jaaskelainen. From the resulting corner Pamarot looking for his third goal in four games headed narrowly wide
Bolton were now looking the most likely to adding to their tally, starting the second half very lively. After being put through by Davies Bolton captain Kevin Nolan was denied by a good James save.
On the hour mark Jaaskelainen again proved the Bolton saviour. The Finnish International parried Cole's close range effort to safety then almost immediately Bolton went up the other end and scored a third. Davies got away to send a ball into the area, this was deflected towards James off Campbell but James failed to gather and Anelka tapped home from close range.
Speed shot over from 25-yards before Harry Redknapp played his first card of the afternoon taking off Gary O'Neil with David Thompson coming on, shortly after Linvoy Primus went the same way with Andy O'Brien coming on for a rare outing.
Possibly the last effort in a Pompey shirt for Manuel Fernandes before he returns to Portugal (or will he???) was a 25-yard shot that went wide of Jaaskelainen's goal. Redknapp then made his third and final change; with time running out Benjani came on with Pamarot being sacrificed.
We gave it a good go; Kranjcar shot wide before having another effort superbly saved by Jaaskelainen as we looked to get back into the game. Other efforts from Thompson and Cole were blocked by Bolton defenders.
With two minutes to play we gave ourselves a glimmer of hope thanks to Cole's wonderful solo effort. Kranjcar's pass found Cole who beat a few Bolton players before shooting home from 20-yards but despite the pressure in the four minutes of injury time we couldn't find that goal we were after as we went down 3-2.
We should feel no shame losing here as this was always going to be a tough match but I'm still slightly disappointed we didn't come home with at least a point, especially after taking the lead. Bolton missed a few chances they will feel they shouldn't have with us again denied by the excellent, yet much underrated Jussi Jaaskelainen.
David James hasn't made too many errors that have cost us but today he did make a couple that resulted in goals although he also made some good saves again and was very unfortunate with Ivan Campo's goal as he had made a superb save to deny Kevin Davies.
It is important that we regroup and get back on track quickly when we face Spurs at the fortress on New Years Day; defeat isn't an option with three points very much possible and I think we'll get them.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Bolton 3 - Abdoulaye Faye 30, Ivan Campo 40, Nicolas Anelka 62
Pompey 2 - Matty Taylor 2, Andrew Cole 88
Linvoy Primus (Andy O'Brien 75)
Noe Pamarot (Benjani 78)
Gary O'Neil (David Thompson 68)
Substitutes Not Used