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Villa 0 - Pompey 0

Villa Park

Sun 22-04-07, 4pm

Attendance: 31745

Villa 0-0 Pompey

After the victory over Newcastle at Fratton last week could we build on this at Villa Park today? In a way we did as we came away with a point after a hard earned 0-0 draw.

Only illness kept Sean Davis out meaning Niko Kranjcar came in for the only change to last weekend's side. Despite a groin injury during the week Benjani was fit to play, playing in a wide right position with Kanu as the lone ranger. Glen Johnson had recovered from injury but had to settle for a place on the bench.

Villa made all the running and would have easily won this match if it wasn't for David James and some wasteful finishing. Harry Redknapp took his side to do a job and although not pretty we did just that as James finally set the new clean sheet record with his 142nd shut out in premiership football

First Half
Pompey played football on yet another glorious afternoon - for what must be the 4th or 5th match running, on a surface that looked as though it's seen no football all season, I've never seen the Villa Park pitch look so good!

Early on it was evident that John Carew would be a handful, his power seeing him brush aside Linvoy Primus before pulling the ball back for the arriving Craig Gardner, who looked odds on to score but was denied by a brilliant David James save as he spread himself to deny the youngster from almost point blank range - he should have scored though.

From a series of Villa corners - one of which has already seen Martin Laursen head over, Villa had another opening, this fell to Carew but his wild miss kick saw us escape and resulted on nothing.

We were defending very well but former Pompey favourite Patrick Berger opened us up when he surged through from midfield. The veteran blew a golden opportunity as he blazed high and wide from his wand of a left foot.

A free kick brought about Villa's next chance, given as a result of Niko Kranjcar's reckless and needless challenge but luckily for us Berger could only drive into the wall, whilst another free kick soon after, out by the touchline brought yet another Villa corner when Gareth Barry's effort was deflected away.

As half time approached and Villa continued to make the running James had to again save well from Gardner. Villa had worked another good opening that saw him in on goal but the angle was tight and James was able to deny him well. We made it through to half time at 0-0, so Harry Redknapp's game plan was working.

Second Half
The second half started with a Pompey change, Benjani had been struggling with his groin injury so I assume this is why he was taken off with Redknapp brining midfield loanee Arnold Mvuemba on in his place.

Would Pompey be more adventurous in the second half? It looked like maybe they would when Gary O'Neil broke forward, especially as others were joining him, but O'Neil took the wrong option and wastefully blazed over from thirty-yards when a simple ball wide would have been a better option. But if it had gone in we wouldn't have moaned.

A moment that summed up Dejan Stefanovic's afternoon - if not season came when he was trying to shepherd a cross field pass out of play. Instead of doing this he needlessly touched resulting in a Villa throw in a dangerous position, luckily it came to nothing.

When James was called into action again he beat away Carew's fierce effort well to keep the scores level. Carew had turned Sol Campbell brilliantly to work his opening but James stood up to the task. Was this to be his day I thought?

Another fine Villa move, one which actually resulted in the well marshalled Pompey defence being breached saw Carew beat James to score, but the defence was so well marshalled that Carew's run had seen him stray into an offside position and the goal was ruled out for offside.

Gabriel Agbonlahor's pace and trickery was also causing us problems and after he had easily worked himself an opening when beating a poor challenge from Stefanovic. A well struck effort was turned away by James at his near post for yet another Villa corner.

The second Pompey change came on 76 minutes as Lomana LuaLua came on for Kanu. The big Nigerian will probably get a lot of stick again for a performance - which wasn't one of his best, but with little or no support it was hard for him to find an outlet. My sister said he was lazy and should have done more - which he should but as I said to her we all knew what we were getting when we signed him, that's how he plays. It's too easy to blame one man, with little or no help what could he do? He is never likely to run forty, fifty-yards and score, unless against Middlesbrough!

After firstly heading over Barry looked odds on to finally break the Pompey resilience as an Ashley Young cross found it's way to him on the edge of the box but he lashed wide when I was worried he wouldn't.

As full time approached Redknapp made his third and final change. Seeing that help was needed to counter the danger of Agbonlahor, Young and Luke Moore, Glen Johnson was introduced in place of Kranjcar, and but for some wasteful Johnson passing maybe this would have been done with even more with LuaLua looking to get in behind the Villa defence.

The last chance fell as you would expect to Villa and Shaun Maloney from a free kick but James saw this over the top and watched it nestle on the roof of the net to secure that NEW RECORD 142nd premiership clean sheet at last!

Match Summary
Not pretty, but certainly effective. We weren't very adventurous coming forward but early on it was obvious what Redknapp wanted from this game - and that was a point minimum and we got it. He clearly believes we can beat anyone at home, including Liverpool and Arsenal - a view I tend to share!

Villa should have won this match but some brilliant defending, if not necessarily in terms of tackling but marshalling, poor finishing and another top class performance from David James, these factors saw us gain a hard earned point. How useful this point will really be will be seen in three games time, but having not won at Villa Park since an old second division game in 1970 could we really have expected a win.

PLAY UP POMPEY!

Goals
Villa 0
Pompey 0

David James
Linvoy Primus
Dejan Stefanovic
Lauren
Sol Campbell
Matty Taylor
Gary O'Neil
Niko Kranjcar (Glen Johnson 83)
Richard Hughes
Benjani (Arnold Mvuemba 45)
Kanu (Lomana LuaLua 77)


Substitutes Not Used
Jamie Ashdown
Noe Pamarot




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The Journalist

Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday April 22 2007

Time: 8:17PM

Your Comments

well done jamo at last, the game was pretty dire though, we defended well enough but showed little in the way of an attacking force, nice to break the villa park hoodoo i suppose, but i really thought we would have gone at them
paultsmouth
I like watching pompey, I love Harry`s approach to the game, but today that was a poor showing.
gunnerb
worst game of football i have watched since yesterday
EvertonMike
gunnerb and EvertonMike - guys, if you had seen us last season and the season before at Villa Park, you would have thought this the best game ever played on the planet by comparison. We were really,really, really woeful then so this is a much more marked improvement on those games.

Congrats to David James, where are you Steve-the-pratt-McClown, know anyone else with this exceptional record you numpty?

One tiny thing though - why on earth are Reading suddenly the dogs doodahs??? A second rate side that will do a Wigan next season, that's who.
TruePompeyBlue
It was obviously from the start 'arry wanted a point and after previous showings at VP this was great! Show's how bad we've been in previous years if we thought this was great doesn't it... England's number one, England, England's number one... What is Steve going to do if and when Carson and Foster go back to their clubs but aren't playing football? Not even he can select 2 from 3 keepers that aren't first choice...
pompeyrug
On the Reading note Reading are the dogs doodahs because they probably are TruePompeyBlue! Credit where it is due they deserve the lot... If we had kept our early season form going 'arry was the only man for manager of the season - if we make it into europe maybe he still is - taking into account what a transformation it will be, but Coppell looks like he should get it now, and probably rightly so... I had a feeling Reading would do well and they have. Next season will be the challenge but they'll not do a Wigan I'm sure as unlike them I think they will retain most of their quality, Wigan didn't, they lost a lot of their's...
pompeyrug
I'd normally think a point at villa was good, but i really thought we would go for it today. Does the lack of attacking football show that we dont really want to push on into a uefa place? I dont know if we have the strength-in-depth squad to cope with the extra games, But, i would assume that euro football would attract bigger names to the club if the funds are available. Although i love Dejan to bits, i thought he looked uncomfortable today. Fantastic for Jamo. Even sven's clone mc'clown cant ignore him forever. Anyone else think that Linvoy is starting to look like the predator??
pompey4me
great review by the way!
VitalPompeyAdmin
McClaren is doing a pretty good job of ignoring Jamo so far isn't he pompey4me... Optimus Primus is certainly transforming into the Predator, I can almost say with one hundred percent certainty though that we'll not be hearing the words 's h i t happens' uttered by Optimus as they were the Predator...
pompeyrug
Thanks very much VitalPompeyAdmin...
pompeyrug
3 points would have been terrific. With Everton and Bolton both losing and each taking on Man U and Chelsea next up we could have been pushing for 5th. As it is even 7th or 8th still hangs in the balance. It is still a hard ask but the Everton game could still prove crucial to EUFA aspirations.
pompeygray
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
The Rabbi
yeah yeah yeah i know a points a point but why do we play 4-5-1 away from home? Why can't we play like Reading did at Bolton and throw caution to the wind? Why play kanu on his own upfront without any support as such. why is the sky blue? why do bears s h i t in the woods? why am i writing this? zzzzzzzzzzz
The Rabbi
congrats James for setting a new record. Although a point is better but we still need maximum points to be in Europe next season. Keep going guys. heal fast Benjy
Mudhara
Yer Mudhara we do need maximum points- three more draws won't be enough!
VitalPompeyAdmin
Serious problem emerging about any hopes of Europe next season. Allegedly, Pompey have not applied to enter the Intertoto Cup and have been quoted by Quay Radio as saying they have chosen the Hong Kong Cup instead.

Now anyone reading my comments recently about Europe will know I would prefer us not to be involved next season. But with the news that we may well be going to Hong Kong instead, I am somewhat annoyed that Europe has been blown out for a really meaningless competition thousands of miles away! At least in Europe, many supporters will be able to afford to go to the matches, but so very, very few will make it to Hong Kong.
TruePompeyBlue
We could always get the Trans-Siberian Express to Shanghai and then get another train to Hong Kong? I'm not sure it calls at Fratton (due to ongoing engineering works) but maybe we could get it diverted? I've got a valid Family railcard.
The Rabbi
Lol!!! Think the biggest problem will without doubt be the engineering works on the signals at Fratton.
TruePompeyBlue
kanu is still recovering from the run against boro
retro hat
haha
VitalPompeyAdmin
a point earned is better than a point lost
Mudhara
Agreed VitalPompeyAdmin we need maximum points in the remaining matches but a point in the hat is better than points in the air
Mudhara
i didng go to this one cos i knew we would be tripe, boring, and negative. 451 not exactly a Euro attack minded formation now was it ? it sort of gives the lie to the players " we want Europe claims"
russellm
 

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