Jamie Ashdown had to be in top form to keep out Kris Common's close range drive, but after Mokoena clumsily fouled Tomasz Cywka, Robbie Savage showed his experience by calmly sending Jamie Ashdown the wrong way. Derby continued to dominate as Pompey failed to create any attacks of note and just before the hour mark Derby doubled their lead, when Cywka teed up Paul Green who made no mistake. With the match seemingly wrapped up, Derby fell asleep at the back, and allowed Kanu to get a sight of goal, but the Nigerian blazed over when it seemed easier to score. The run had come to an end.
After Pompey's first defeat in eight games, what better way to bounce back than beating undefeated league leaders QPR under the lights at Fratton. It was a tense encounter, with both teams performing well defensively, but John Utaka nearly opened the scoring before half time, following a mazy run with a screaming shot, which beat the 'keeper, but came back off the crossbar. QPR also had chances, none more threatening than Rob Hulse's header which Ashdown expertly kept out.
With the game coming to an end, Pompey grabbed the advantage with 20 minutes to go, Dave Kitson was put through on goal before being hauled down by Matthew Connolly, who rightfully got his marching orders. Liam Lawrence stepped up against his International teammate Paddy Kenny, and came off second best as Kenny saved. But the referee decided that Lawrence deserved a second chance after Kenny came off his line, and this time made no mistake. Utaka nearly put the match to bed moments later, but QPR held strong and in the final minute a cross from Tommy Smith seemingly hit Liam Lawrence on the chest from close range. But as they often do, the referee decided to even the game out by awarding a penalty, much to the frustration of Lawrence, whose protestations saw him receive his second yellow card. Tommy Smith, still technically owned by Pompey, showed no remorse and kept QPR's undefeated record in tact.
The hammer blow served by QPR's late equaliser rocked the Blues confidence, but another game at Fratton 4 days later, this time against Doncaster gave the perfect opportunity for redemption. However, Donny had other ideas and within 26 minutes found themselves 2-0 up thanks to goals from James Hayter and James Coppinger. But Pompey refused to lay down and after Joel Ward scored his first goal for the club the momentum swung so it was no surprise when with 15 minutes to go David Nugent made the pressure pay, with a deserved equaliser. But the action didn't stop there, as David Healy fought against the current and struck a wonderful winner. Carl Dickinson ended the day on a sour note after a horrible tackle saw him receive a straight red card.
Pompey lacked the creativity of the suspended Lawrence against Doncaster, but he returned for the trip to Oakwell to take on Barnsley, and it was the hosts who started the brighter. Adam Hamill scored the only goal of the game after just 12 minutes, and despite failing to extend their lead, The Tykes held on comfortably in a scrappy encounter dominated by an awful referee. Joel Ward did scramble a late chance to equalise, but Luke Steele showed his mettle (I'm terribly sorry for that pun) and kept his low drive out.
After 1 point from 12, November ended with a European encounter, more specifically a trip to the Liberty Stadium against promotion chasing Swansea. After a poor run of form the writing seemed to be on the wall when after 90 seconds Craig Beattie had given the Jacks the lead. The Swans had chances to increase their lead, but Ashdown kept out Darren Pratley's shot, and Mark Gower and Nathan Dyer missed the target when given opportunities. It wasn't all one way traffic however, as Dave Kitson had a several chances to equalise, once denied by a great save from Dorus de Vries, and secondly by the referee after spotting a handball in the build up to his goal.
But Pompey were not to be denied on the stroke of half-time, as John Utaka's pin point pass found David Nugent, who kept his composure to finish past de Vries. Despite being second best in the first half, Pompey asserted their dominance in the second, and after continuous pressure Utaka grabbed his second assist by crossing for Halford, who nodded home to give the Blues an unlikely lead. Swansea failed to get going following Halfords goal, and Portsmouth held out for a huge win.
It was a great end to a poor month, which saw Pompey's fine run replaced with a winless one, in addition to some disciplinary issues. Another positive following the win in Wales, was the return of Hermann Hreidarsson, as he came of the bench to play the closing minutes after 6 months missing with a snapped Achilles, a welcome return to one of the few surviving members of the FA Cup winning team.
Pre-Season Review - here
August Review - here
September Review - here
October Review - here
Written by PompeyFrippy.
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