Pompey Held To A Draw
Monday 01-01-07, 3pm
Pompey welcomed Spurs and Didier Zokora to Fratton Park as we looked to gain revenge for the 2-1 defeat at White Hart Lane thanks to Mr Zokora (who started and ended this game on the bench) but we had to settle for a point today in a 1-1 draw.
With Kanu again stressing how much he wants to leave the club and return to Ajax the New Year hadn't started in the best fashion but unsurprisingly our Nigerian top goalscorer was recalled to the starting line up in place of Niko Kranjcar (who dropped to the bench) to partner the also returning Benjani who came in for Andrew Cole. Pedro Mendes also returned after missing the Bolton defeat, coming in for Manuel Fernandes who as to avoid triggering his £12 million clause dropped to the bench.
Benjani put Pompey ahead in the first half from the edge of the area with a deflected effort before Spurs came out of the traps quickly in the second half to level through Steed Malbranque.
Pompey got the match underway in front of an expectant Fratton Park crowd looking for some New Year cheer to shake off the hangovers; and see us bounce back from the Bolton defeat.
Within the opening minute a reckless challenge from Noe Pamarot almost took off the head of Hossam Ghaly to give Spurs the first opportunity. After a delay a bloodied Ghaly left the field off play to be patched up then from Spurs' free kick Dimitar Berbatov headed over.
A long clearance from Paul Robinson was flicked on by the then rebuilt Ghaly sporting a brand new shirt with the number 50 on the back to Jermain Defoe. Defoe's run evaded the Pompey defence and saw him through on goal but David James was quickly out to deny him, cutting down the angle well saving bravely as he stood tall.
After only 12 minutes Pompey were forced into making the opening change of the match as Pamarot went down clutching his groin. Niko Kranjcar came on as Pompey reshuffled dropping Matty Taylor back into a left-back position.
Berbatov, who had caused us early problems at White Hart Lane, was doing so again here. He took on and beat Sol Campbell before pulling back to Ghaly who could only shot wide from six-yards, although he was claiming a corner.
As the crowd awoke Pompey came back into the game and several good moves then came along, all started by Pedro Mendes and Kranjcar's quick one touch play as the exchanged a series of passes. Others followed, just missing that final pass.
With the crowd more and more vocal Pompey grew yet further in confidence and on the half hour took the lead through Benjani. The Zimbabwean looked to create an opening for himself from 20-yards before unleashing a shot which deflected off Calum Davenport and beyond Robinson in the Spurs.
As half time approached the three minutes of injury time saw Sol hit the bar from a mere five-yards out! A foul had already been given for an infringement on Robinson by Kanu so the goal wouldn't have counted anyway.
A change was made at half time by Spurs with Danny Murphy coming on for Ghaly as Spurs looked for a quick response in the second half as they flew out of the traps in the second half.
James had already made a fine save from Calum Davenport to maintain our advantage before the equaliser soon came… As the Pompey defence went AWOL totally alone and unmarked Steed Malbranque headed home from Murphy's cross.
Shortly after Pompey maybe should have been ahead again. Gary O'Neil's cross from the right found Kanu's head but he could only head weakly into Robinson's arms from six-yards out when he was unable to generate enough power on his header.
We responded well to the goal though and were causing Spurs problems. Kanu again with a chance, this time he could only stab wide as Spurs failed to clear a corner. Teemu Tainio then shot wildly over for Spurs when at the edge of the area before Kranjcar's goal bound effort was blocked away for a corner.
Both sides were pushing for three points, with neither settling for the one they had. Glen Johnson almost gifted Spurs a win when he gave the ball away to Defoe who had his shot saved and then spilled by James but Taylor was covering and cleared to safety.
Tom Huddlestone's drive from the edge of the area was again superbly saved by James to keep the scores level before Harry Redknapp showed how much he wanted the three points by bringing on an extra forward in Andrew Cole for his 400th league appearance with O'Neil coming off, Linvoy Primus took the armband.
As the match moved from end to end in the often pouring rain Cole had a shot blocked by a defender for a corner before Primus looking for his third goal in as many games having gone two-years without one headed wide from six-yards with just Robinson to beat when left with a glorious chance.
Given the fact that neither side have a good record over the past decade or more of winning on New Years Day a draw was always likely and so it proved. This could be viewed as two points dropped but both sides played their part and maybe a point was a fair result for each; although I'm biased and feel we maybe had enough of the chances to have won.
The injury to Noe Pamarot is a concern. Despite him not being a recognised left back he has filled in admirably in Dejan Stefanovic's absence. With the possibility of a while on the sidelines this just highlights the need for a left back to be signed.
We now have a couple of weeks before our next Premiership match, with an FA Cup third round tie sandwiched in between during which time we will be expecting transfer activity both to and from Fratton Park… Hopefully we'll see more players in than out though!
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Pompey 1 - Benjani 29
Spurs 1 - Steed Malbranque 50
Noe Pamarot (Niko Kranjcar 12)
Gary O'Neil (Andrew Cole 73)
Substitutes Not Used