Pompey 2-1 Newcastle
Saturday 14-04-07, 3pm
After the victory over United we lost at a whimper to Watford. Looking to bounce back we took on Newcastle at Fratton today, and bounce back we did with a 2-1 win.
Sol Campbell, who missed out against United and Watford returned along with Lauren and Benjani who sat out the Watford debacle. Djimi Traore, Noe Pamarot and Lomana LuaLua dropping out, Pamarot and LuaLua took up places on the bench, Traore was left out altogether.
We probably had enough chances today to win all of our remaining matches but Benjani's early first half effort, making the most of slack defending and a Matty Taylor 30 yard screamer meant that Emre's penalty in reply proved nothing more than a consolation. Kanu hit the bar and Obafemi Martins saw an effort cleared of the line before hitting the bar himself, but we more than deserved our victory.
Another glorious day of sunshine on the south coast saw Newcastle start the brighter and were almost ahead after 50 seconds. Former Pompey target Obafemi Martins fired in a twenty-yard effort that David James turned away for a corner. Thirty seconds later and the toon hard another chance. Damien Duff's cross found Craig Moore but the defender dragged his effort wide.
After these efforts the tide turned and with our first effort we were ahead. Matty Taylor crossed into the box and Steven Taylor proved to weak as Benjani robbed him of the ball before placed beyond Steve Harper in the 7th minute.
On 15 minutes we thought we were 2-0 up. Kanu took Lauren's cross; turning brilliantly before firing past Harper but the ball struck the bar. Unlike his effort against Watford on Monday this one bounced down on the line, but did it cross? Not according to the officials.
It was all Pompey, we were threatening to run away with things, Dejan Stefanovic saw an effort blocked before Gary O'Neil would be likewise whilst Stefanovic sent another effort over, this time with his head. Taylor, Kanu and Benjani all got in on the act again, but efforts caused no trouble for Harper, although most were close. Harper was made to work though with the half nearing an end. Benjani's powerful effort from within the area was very well saved by Harper, tipping this around the post for a corner.
Pompey remained in complete control but on the stroke of half time totally against the run of play Newcastle very nearly drew level. James Milner's cross was headed at goal but cleared away from the goal line by Lauren to make sure we went in deservedly ahead, although 1-0 completely flattered the toon.
As with the first half it would be Newcastle that had an early chance, but Martins sent his effort wide with Kanu doing similarly a minute or so later from double the range. But then maybe the moment that proved the day would be ours, even though we more than deserved it, came as Martins headed Milner's cross against the bar.
We soon broke and with the hour approaching Matty Taylor did it again, does he ever score an easy one! This time he tried his luck from thirty-yards and beat Harper low into the corner with him well beaten.
Newcastle responded quickly themselves and pulled one back through Emre from the penalty spot midway through the second half. Stefanovic clumsily fouled Milner and the Turkish international made no mistake to give the toon hope of getting something from a match they never deserved. Shortly after Newcastle's goal Harry Redknapp made his first change, Lomana LuaLua coming on for Benjani. LuaLua, a you would expect was desperate for a goal, one effort was blocked before another was sent wide.
As the match moved into the final ten minutes David James brilliantly denied Martins to retain the lead we deserved, and this proved to be the last piece of action he had and as a late time wasting measure Harry Redknapp withdrew Kanu in injury time with Niko Kranjcar coming on in his place.
We were attacking at will in the first half and could have easily been five, maybe even six-nil up by half time, which made me worry we could be made to pay. Another Matty Taylor cracker calmed my nerves but then yet another needlessly conceded penalty, much like the one we gave Watford made me worry but we still did more than enough.
David James may have to wait another week for a shave - well he would if he'd not cheated and done so already, but what a way to get it though against a former side Villa next time out if he can.
Not even the most fanatical Geordie could have denied us victory today could they, anything other than a Pompey win would have been unbelievable after the chances we had and the way the match went in general. Again it's a worry we didn't convert more of these chances but a win is a win and that will do me fine.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Pompey 2 - Benjani 7, Matty Taylor 57
Newcastle 1 - Emre 69 (penalty)
Kanu (Niko Kranjcar 90)
Benjani (Lomana LuaLua 73)
Substitutes Not Used