Pompey 7-4 Reading
Sat 29-09-07, 3pm
Two league matches unbeaten, going into a run of matches against teams 'we could beat' started with Reading visiting Fortress Fratton.
Only two players - Sylvain Distin and Benjani - who started the league cup win at Burnley started against Reading as David James, Glen Johnson, Sol Campbell, Hermann Hreidarsson, John Utaka, Sean Davis, Papa Bouba Diop, Sulley Muntari and Niko Kranjcar all returned, but Kanu missed out with injury.
Jamie Ashdown, Lauren, Djimi Traore, Noe Pamarot, Arnold Mvuemba, Matty Taylor, Richard Hughes, Pedro Mendes and David Nugent all dropped out - Ashdown, Pamarot, Taylor, Mendes and Nugent took up places on the bench
An incredible match saw Pompey 2-0 up, pulled back to 2-2, 3-2 up with a penalty then saved by David James. We then went to 5-2 up, then 5-3, eventually 7-3 up before an injury time Reading goal made it 7-4 in the end with Benjani - maybe only playing as Kanu was injured - scoring a hat trick among the circus.
When 3pm came around I took my seat expecting a good game, a Pompey win and goals - my money was on 4-0 - but no one could have expected what we got.
Pompey made a perfect start and a swift attacking move involving John Utaka saw him out wide, picking out a perfect cross to Benjani who arrived at the far post to acrobatically finish with a volley to give us a 7th minute lead.
Benjani almost got in between Michael Duberry and Marcus Hahnemann to add a second, as the chances began to mount up.
Papa Bouba Diop could not quite convert a chance after Hahnemann has spilled a Niko Kranjcar corner, then Kranjcar himself - who showed some incredible skills during this match - nutmeged a defender before shooting wide, then a cross from wide on the left from of all people Sylvain Distin saw Utaka put over, when he could have done better.
Pompey had so much possession, but as plymouth graham told us, you had to worry that we were not making the most of this, or taking the chances and more followed…
Another quick Pompey break saw Kranjcar wide to Utaka, who in turn found Bouba Diop, back to Kranjcar again, who played a one two with Sulley Muntari before some silky skills saw the Croat shot wide, had we scored this it would have been a fantastic goal.
Bouba Diop had a 25-yarder saved before a fantastic solo run from Benjani saw him run from near on half way, beating several players before drilling home from 20 odd yards for his and our second, 2-0 after 37 minutes.
How we were not 3-0 up soon after god only knows, what has to go down as the greatest save I have ever personally witnessed saw Hahnemann deny Glen Johnson from 5-yards out after Benjani's knockdown. All we had to show for another fine move was a corner, which then saw Sean Davis shot just over.
In 1st half injury time Reading were given what looked like being a lifeline. Somehow Liam Rosenior missed from close range, smacking against the bar, but then even more incredibly Dave Kitson missed from point blank range, although David James required credit but eventually at the third attempt Stephen Hunt headed home, 2-1 at half time.
With 5 minutes of half time Reading were level, a rush of blood to James' head, saw him charge out of goal, beaten to the ball by Kitson who rounded him before finishing brilliantly.
Straight after Utaka was put through but his effort was cleared of the line, with Kranjcar's follow up going wide.
James Harper had shot over from close range, again when he should have done better before Bouba Diop had what we thought was another goal disallowed for offside, but we did not have to wait long for this. After 55 minutes another charging run down the left hand side from Distin saw him deliver to Hermann Hreidarsson who beat Hahnemann to the ball head home, Pompey 3 Reading 2.
A few minutes later and a crazy handball from Bouba Diop gave Reading another chance to get level. Nicky Shorey stepped up, but James guessed the right way to make amends for his earlier error to save.
Something that not many of us would really have thought we would witness that often, if ever happened on 70 minutes as Muntari's through ball put in Benjani who rounded the keeper before rolling home for his hat trick and a 4-2 Pompey lead.
It was soon 5-2 on 75 minutes. Davis had put in an initial disappointing cross, but when given a second chance he delivered perfectly to Kranjcar to head home from a few yards out.
Reading were back in the game 3 minutes later as Harper's volley, which was actually going wide took a deflection off sub Shane Long, who looked more than suspiciously offside, David Nugent, who had been waiting for a few minutes to come on then came on for Benjani as Harry Redknapp made his first change, with him immediately being denied by Hahnemann.
The score was 5-3 at this point to recap, but this was 6-3 a couple of minutes after Long's goal as Davis' shot, which did look destined for the corner deflected off Ivar Ingimarsson to make it 6-3 Pompey.
Not content with that we wanted more. Davis saw an effort deflected for a corner, which then should have see another goal as Hreidarsson sent a free header wide.
At the other end Reading were still going for it and with James waiting for the ball instead of going for it Kevin Doyle was able to get in and the ball found its way to Hunt, but with the goal gaping Johnson got back to make a fantastic challenge to deny him.
With injury time approaching Kranjcar produced a simply amazing piece of skill and a run that saw him beat several player before winning a penalty, but who would take it? The crowd wanted Nugent, but Muntari grabbed the ball and smashed it down the middle of the goal, that is now 7-3 to Pompey in case you are having trouble keeping up!
But that was not it, Reading still had time to have the final say in injury time to make it 7-4 with Shorey's deflected effort off Sol Campbell, which would probably have been saved but for this.
What a match!
This had everything, what a game for you to have for your first match of the season. Both sides played their part in a quite incredible 90 minutes of football, which could have quite easily ended at 10-5 at least.
Yep, defensively you can say that both sides were very guilty at times, but to be honest I do not really care, it was a fantastic match in which we looked frightening coming forward attacking at will with Niko Kranjcar stunning, he seems to be showing a defensive as well as a highly impressive attacking nature to his game now that makes his tag as 'a new Robert Prosinecki' justified.
David James made a couple of mistakes that did cost goals, this cannot be denied but everyone, on both sides played very well with Sean Davis, who has had his knockers, yep, myself included at times maybe, again also superb, they all were.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Pompey 7 - Benjani 7, 37 & 70, Hermann Hreidarsson 55, Niko Kranjcar 75, Sean Davis 81, Sulley Muntari 90 (pen)
Reading 4 - Stephen Hunt 45, Dave Kitson 48, Shane Long 78, Nicky Shorey 90
Papa Bouba Diop
Benjani (David Nugent 80)
Substitutes Not Used
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