Date:Saturday May 5 2007
Sat 05-05-07, 3pm
Last week we welcomed one half of Merseyside to Fratton in the shape of Liverpool, this time we had to go to Merseyside and Goodison Park to face the other half in Everton for a virtual winner takes all Uefa cup place match. A typical away day for Pompey saw us go down 3-0!
It was hoped that the Achilles injury Sol Campbell is having wouldn't keep him out again this week but unfortunately it did, although Harry Redknapp would probably rather have him fit for the final game though. Injuries to Dejan Stefanovic, Matty Taylor and Richard Hughes had seen them doubts all week and they did miss out. Noe Pamarot, Niko Kranjcar and Sean Davis came in.
A dour first half saw the sides go in 0-0 at half time, but only one side looked like winning it in the second half and they did. Mikel Arteta's penalty was followed shortly after by Joseph Yobo's header capped in injury time by Gary Naysmith's diving header.
With Pompey conceding a foul and a free kick in the first 10 seconds of the game after original thoughts - or was this hopes of a positive result dissolved and I immediately got this feeling that I was once again not going to like what I saw on the road from Pompey!
Early cries for an Everton penalty, when Victor Anichebe went down in the area were waved away before Linvoy Primus missed the games best chance to date. Niko Kranjcar's corner was met by Primus midway into the area but he could not get the direction quite right and narrowly headed over.
Primus' best chance of the game was soon cancelled out as Everton broke through for what should have been the games opening goal. Anichebe flicked on for his strike partner James Vaughan but thankfully from a Pompey point of view he dragged horribly wide of David James` goal to the dismay of the Everton following. Then shortly after Leon Osman headed across goal instead of into it.
Kranjcar finally became a Pompey player to test Tim Howard in the Everton goal as the half entered the final 10 minutes but his long ranged effort was safely fielded by the American international.
It wasn't a pretty first half as many had expected, but in truth isn't anything new from a Pompey performance away from Fratton but it could have ended with us ahead. Firstly Joleon Lescott volleyed straight at James a minute before the break, which could have seen the toffees ahead at the break then in first half injury time after being sent through by Benjani our skipper Gary O'Neil could only shot wide.
Everton had clearly been given greater orders from their gaffer at half time to go on and win this game as they came out with a far greater purpose and but for an incredible miss from Lee Carsley would have been ahead within 4 minutes of the restart. The impressive Mikel Arteta made himself room for a cross that was touched on by Osman to Carsley and with the goal at his mercy from only six-yards he somehow shot wide.
Soon after former Pompey loanee Manuel Fernandes - who has become somewhat of a favourite at Everton also, but seems destined to move on in the summer, almost had Everton ahead. His twenty-yard effort fizzed across the face of goal beating James in the process but also beat the post.
It was only looking like a matter of time before Everton finally broke the deadlock and on the hour they had the best chance yet. Vaughan beat Primus with some clever skill before being hauled down by Glen Johnson for a penalty. Arteta placed the ball on the spot and made no mistake. James got a hand to the ball but it was so well struck he could do nothing more than help it in.
Minutes later almost came an Everton second. Vaughan, again played in by Arteta saw his effort turned around the post by James. We had kept the score to one, but only for a brief moment. From the resulting corner Joseph Yobo beat a token gesture challenge from Djimi Traore to head home for 2-0.
Everton were now rampant and would have been three up had it not been for a good save from James to deny Fernandes again, who again struck from range.
In order to try and change the game Harry Redknapp took off Lauren and Kranjcar with Arnold Mvuemba and Lomana LuaLua coming on it their places. It didn't work and Everton could and maybe should have scored again soon after, Arteta got onto the end of Anichebe's centre but couldn't hit the target.
We finally woke up in the final ten minutes of the half and actually created some chances with an end product. Firstly Johnson shot wide from twenty-yards before Mvuemba made Howard make a save, albeit a comfortable one from a similar distance.
Redknapp made his final change with 8 minutes to play, Rudolph Douala coming on for Kanu. LuaLua then forced Howard into actually making a save of note, with Johnson again trying his luck from range, this effort causing no problems for Howard and Douala shot wide.
None of our efforts were looking particularly troubling though and our misery was completed in injury time as substitute Gary Naysmith scored with his first touch. The Scottish international dived to head home James Beattie's flick to complete a comfortably 3-0 win that almost assures European football will be witnessed on both halves of Merseyside next season, as for the South Coast, this is still to be decided…
I love Harry Redknapp to bits but why doesn't he at least have a go when we are on the road. If we had a go and lost we could accept this couldn't we. A point is a point but how much use would it have been today? Fair enough other results meant it wouldn't have been bad but he couldn't have known they would have turned out as they did! Why does he even bother taking a squad to most of our away fixtures? We almost never seem to have any interest of actually winning the games - the 9 defeats on the road tells its own tale.
Quite simply we don't deserve Uefa cup football next season - ready for it or not, on the basis of our away form, and in general our away performances, however, over the course of a season a table doesn't lie so if we do get in after 38 games we would have deserved it.
After an incredible day of results, defeats for Bolton and Reading also mean we still have a chance of making it in by finishing at least 7th, maybe as high as 6th but you would favour Spurs for a 5th or 6th place finish at the very least 7th surely? But after today's results we can't write off Charlton on Monday and Blackburn still have it all to play for on Thursday when they face Spurs so who knows what will happen!
Simple fact is we have to beat Arsenal at Fratton next Sunday - which I feel we will and always have then hope we get some help. You would expect Spurs to make it now so we will need both Bolton and Reading to fail to obtain victory. Depending on what Blackburn do with Spurs on Thursday and what happens with Spurs and Charlton on Monday it may well still come down to goal difference so how crucial could the goal we conceded today with the last kick prove to be???
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Everton 3 - Mikel Arteta 59 (penalty), Joseph Yobo 62, Gary Naysmith 90
Lauren (Arnold Mvuemba 70)
Niko Kranjcar (Lomana LuaLua 70)
Kanu (Rudolph Douala 82)
Substitutes Not Used
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Date:Saturday May 5 2007
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