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Match Reports

Portsmouth v Spurs, 18.10.04


Yakubu, 63

Attendance:- 20,121

Referee:- Uriah Rennie

Portsmouth (4-4-2):- Hislop; Griffin, Primus, Stefanovic, Unsworth; Quashie (Capt.), Faye (sub Cisse, 84), Berkovic (sub Fuller, 55), Berger; LuaLua, Yakubu (sub Kamara, 75)

Subs not used:- Ashdown; Taylor

No bookings

Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Pamarot, Naybet, King (Capt.), Gardner (sub Kanoute, 72); Davies, Brown (sub Carrick, 72), Mendes, Atouba (sub Jackson, 79); Keane, Defoe

Subs not used:- Keller; Ziegler

No bookings

It seems that Harry Redknapp found a catalyst for his Portsmouth side to be so inspired to beat Spurs last night, thus preventing the visitors from maintaining their unbeaten away record, and climbing to fourth place. The tragic tale of local lad Tom Prince has been reported widely in today's papers. Tom died yesterday morning from leukaemia, and would have been sixteen today. His wish for a Pompey win was granted.

The figures might say that Spurs had most possession (58%), that they matched the home side for shots on target, and exceeded the number of home shots off the mark, but the fact is that Robinson was the most exercised of the two keepers, and more heroics from him prevented the scoreline from being wider. Had Spurs played the whole game with the passion and desire demonstrated in the closing stages, when an under-pressure Hislop nearly spilt one of the few shots that did hit the target, then maybe they would have come away with something. It's hard to claim we deserved a share of the spoils really.

Spurs replaced Erik Edman with Gardner - not a natural left back, although he has played there plenty of times before, and one mistake by Anthony, allowing LuaLua's telling 63rd minute cross for the Yakubu goal was to be crucial. Even Ledley King (Captain in the absence of suspended Jamie Redknapp) looked a little below par at times, perhaps suffering from a lack of football, having been bench-warming for England during the International break. Michael Brown filled the midfield vacancy, and there will be another this week, as Thimothee Atouba was stretchered off in the late stages with a knee ligament injury that bodes ominously for the next few weeks. Mind you, Atouba produced little on the night, looking more than a little awkward, struggling to control the ball fully, and failing to pass men.

Spurs had a lot of good possession and in good areas, but failed to make good use of the ball when it came to the crunch. Mendes sprayed, but sometimes overhit balls to the wide men. Defoe was very tightly marked, and Robbie Keane's first touch was abysmal at times. Both the strikers suffered from poor service at times, and I do feel that Fredi Kanoute will need to start on Saturday against Bolton.

Portsmouth played with great pace, and were very fluid. Yakubu and LuaLua inter-changed up front, and the midfield resembled a diamond formation, with Berkovic at the head, Berger on the left, and Quashie on the right. Amdy Faye held things up at the back of midfield. The game as a whole was free-flowing, and it is amazing that no-one found their way into Uriah Rennie's book, although he did manage to dismay both sets of fans at times!

After some early pressure from the Pompey strikers, Spurs did have a couple of half-chances, with a Davies shot saved, and a Mendes effort over the bar. After 10 minutes, a Ledley King error led to a chance for Yakubu, whose shot was well saved by Robinson. The ball rebounded to an unmarked Berkovic, but his shot went over a gaping goal. Robinson then got down well to a Quashie shot, as the Portsmouth skipper advanced form the inside left channel. The attacking home midfield and the strike force were regularly finding space in which to operate, forcing Spurs to back-pedal. After 20 minutes, Gardner lost the ball near the half way line, and Yakubu clashed with Pamarot as he edged into the Spurs area. The full back ran across Yakubu's line, but Rennie waved play-on. There was ironic applause from the home fans (as vocal as ever) a minute later, when Mr. Rennie did award a free kick to Portsmouth.

Mid-way through the half, Yakubu beat Pamarot, passing to Berger who was pressurised by the defence, but the ball ran to Berkovic, whose shot was deflected over for a corner. After 29 minutes, Berkovic floated a free kick to the Spurs right side of the box. The ball was chipped into the 6 yard box, and Paul Robinson stretched magnificently to push the ball away from danger, with LuaLua looming. Spurs at last had another direct chance, when Mendes ran the ball from left to centre - passed to Keane whose low shot went across the goal and wide.

The cards then seemed to be stacked against Spurs, as Mr. Rennie awarded two free kicks in quick succession just outside the box. Unsworth and Berkovic took an age both times to fashion a kick, and both were blocked. Just before the break, Keane slipped the ball to Jermain Defoe, who should have scored, but kicked air under pressure from Stefanovic.

Soon after the break, LuaLua made headway down the left flank, and crossed for Berkovic, in acres of space, once again having the goal beckoning. Berkovic's shot was miles wide, and Spurs breathed a sigh of relief. Spurs responded well at this stage, with Davies threading a ball to Defoe, whose shot on the turn was deflected for a corner. Two minutes later, from a free kick, Anthony Gardner's header hit the post to the left of Hislop, and Defoe's follow-up was blocked for another corner. Brown, Gardner and Atouba were then the suppliers of another chance for Jermain, but this shot went just over the bar.

Portsmouth took the initiative again, and Berger made room for himself with a run from right to left, hitting a good shot wide of the target. The killer goal came in the 63rd minute, as LuaLua beat Gardner with a chipped cross that left Robinson stranded, and gave Yakubu an easy close-range header.

Spurs brought on Kanoute for Gardner and Michael Carrick was at last given his debut for Brown. Carrick was roundly booed by the home fans, as he had rejected them when considering a move before coming to Spurs. He failed to make an impact on the game. Pamarot, Naybet and King became a three-man defence, with Davies and Atouba as wing-backs. The home side kept up the pressure though, and substitute Kamara had a good chance after 81 minutes, when the ball fell to his feet in the area. With the full time approaching, John Jackson got the ball to Robbie Keane, whose shot on the turn was at least on target, and nearly fumbled by Hislop. Then, in injury time, Jackson hit a good low shot that was goal-bound, but was blocked by Stefanovic to seal a memorable win for Pompey.

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