Chelsea 1-0 Pompey
Sat 25-08-07, 3pm
Pompey were the guests to Stamford Bridge this afternoon as we looked to finally break our pointless run against Chelsea. In 8 previous Premiership matches we had lost them all, only ever scoring one goal.
I went into the goal full of optimism that we could pull it off - and we only just failed not to win, let alone draw!
Sol Campbell and Lauren returned from injury, although Pedro Mendes missed out. Noe Pamarot was fit to take up a place on the bench, but Sulley Muntari also returned from suspension as Harry Redknapp went for a 4-4-2 formation, but with John Utaka not quite deployed as an out and out attacker. The men that dropped out were Djimi Traore, Richard Hughes and Benjani.
The fact that Pompey had more of the possession says it all, but as Chelsea took the chance that came their way through Frank Lampard it saw them scrape a 1-0 win.
Chelsea started brightly and an early chance saw Claudio Pizarro get a clear chance but he shot wide. Then, as you would expect they had slightly more of the play but did not have another real chance until about 15 minutes when Pizarro again got in the end of a chance, getting ahead of Sylvain Distin, but he could only to head over.
Matty Taylor almost broke away from Sulley Muntari's through ball, with Taylor making a fine run, but the ball was just too heavy - it was an encouraging sign though that they were vulnerable.
Pompey again threatened with a quick one two between Lauren and Gary O'Neil, with John Utaka pulling the ball back but no one could get on the end of it, but yet there was more encouragement that Chelsea were worried, particularly down their right hand side.
Chelsea may have been favourites but Pompey were controlling the half after the early position from Chelsea looking more threatening with us inches away from taking the lead. Great work from Kanu created an opening for Taylor but his shot was deflected just wide with Petr Cech struggling. From the resulting corner Muntari drove a shot that was comfortable for Cech, but that was not the end of it as seconds later with Taylor crying out for the ball Muntari opted to shot again.
Against the run of play with 30 minutes played Chelsea took the lead. Frank Lampard's run from midfield saw him free and his shot from the edge of the area beat David James who may feel disappointed that he was beaten by the effort, although it did move in front of him.
Another questionable decision from referee Alan Wiley, one of many, not to award Pompey a free kick for a foul on Utaka - eventually he did - saw John Terry escape a yellow card. Utaka was threatening though, with it still more than believed that we could come back into the match.
On the stroke of half time Taylor again was inches away as he had Cech beaten, but unfortunately he also beat the bar - just!
Harry Redknapp, quite rightly decided against any changes at half time as we had done enough in the 1st half, with us unlucky to be behind, but an instant chance for Shawn Wright Phillips could only see him shoot wide.
Had Pompey's chance come and gone? In the opening 10 minutes of the 2nd half more good work from Kanu saw him pull the ball back to Sean Davis but from 12 yards he was unable to hit the target as he shot over.
A crunching challenge between Michael Essien and Muntari saw the Pompey man get the better of things and we then broke away, with O'Neil getting a shot away from outside of the area that was again just wide.
With 60 minutes gone Redknapp made his first change as and attacking move saw Benjani come on for O'Neil.
After Florent Malouda sent an venomous effort just wide, Kanu's clever ball in gave Benjani a chance but he could not quite work a good enough angle and could then only shot wide, then James had to be alert to parry and effort from Essien.
Pompey were giving it everything and half chances can and went with Essien and Joe Cole coming close, although Pompey were still not out of the game at all and Benjani and Muntari had half chances before the final throw of the dice was made with 8 minutes to play as David Nugent and Noe Pamarot came on for Matty Taylor and Lauren.
After a scramble in the area, with 3 minutes to go Pompey were denied the equaliser firstly as Nugent's goal bound shot hit Benjani then as the ball rebounded back Ashley Cole cleared Hermann Hreidarsson's header off the line. Although we kept pushing we could not make the break through and Chelsea just held on.
Yep, we lost but we were not disgraced - far from it and I was delighted that Harry Redknapp went for 4-4-2 today and really had a go, this again proves that we can take on the best home and away.
We had a really, really good go at them and fully deserved to have come away with at least a point but Chelsea win because they take the chances, whereas although we had plenty of opportunities we could not create enough clear cut efforts to threaten.
However Matty Taylor went unbelievable close a couple of times with a few more fine runs from midfield not quite spotted, which if they had he could have been in.
Individually and collectively we were fantastic today and on another day, with some luck we would have won let alone drawn this game.
The record books will show a defeat, but we will know we were fantastic today and my money will definitely be on us to finally break the Premiership duck points wise when we met them at Fratton later in the season.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Chelsea 1 - Frank Lampard 30
Lauren (Noe Pamarot 82)
Gary O'Neil (Benjani 60)
Matty Taylor (David Nugent 82)
Substitutes Not Used
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