Date: 14th December 2008 at 5:09pm
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Pompey today rolled over and died against a Newcastle side who hadn’t won at Fratton in 17 years.
Big questions will be asked over both Pompey players desire, and the tactical nous of Tony Adams.

Pompey fans had high hopes of victory today, most were of the opinion that we have been a bit unlucky of late, but after a week on the training ground rather playing, maybe a few frailties would have been ironed out.
There used to be a term for Fratton, ‘Fortress Fratton’ but lately it has been as much as a fortress as Portchester castle.

First Half

Pompey started without Glen Johnson as he succumbed to his persistent nagging knee injury, Diop was also absent after 5 bookings and his place went to Mvuemba.
The first half to be fair was full of chances, Martins blasted one against the post for the geordies, while Defoe fired over from Belhadjs’ weighted cross. Defoe seemed to have a good shout for a penalty, Bassong impeded him in the area but referee Foy waved play on, an action he was frequently to do in ensuing match.
It was really ebb and flow stuff, Pompey probed, Newcastle countered, Enrique tested James with a blast that Jamo did well to turn over, Kranjcar mean while tested the windows in Alverstone road with a wild blast.
shay Given was to produce the save of the half, Kranjcar made room for a shot which deflected and forced a fine save from the Irishman.

Second Half

The talk at half-time was both sides cancelling each other out a bit, but we had hope of snatching a goal if either Crouch or Defoe could receive the right ball, the match was to pan out other wise.

After just 7 minutes of the half Mvuemba commited the sin of giving the ball away to Gutierrez, he in turn fed Owen and he did what comes natural and dinked it over the prostrate James and into the net, 1-0 to Newcastle and how would we react?
Pamarot headed narrowly over from a corner and then Defoe turned and fired wide the sort of chance he normally buries.
Adams countered all this with one of the more bizarre substitutions he will ever make, Mvuemba departed and in his place came on Kanu, in midfield, again. Now shout me down if I am wrong, but Kanu has the pace of Stephen Hawking, in the box he can turn and produce a bit of magic in dangerous areas, but midfield? Sorry Tony but no way.
Pompeys only threat seemed to be from corners now, but with the huge gulf in midfield now wide open, it only seemed a matter of time before Newcastle were to catch us again, 77 minutes to be exact. Martins blasted so wide it went for a Pompey throw, but inexplicably we gave away possession again, Guthrie slotted in Martins again and this time he waited for James to commit and rolled it in the corner, game over.
Ameobi came on fro Martins straight away and then either sprung the offside or was wrongly waved on by the lino, either way he squared to Guthrie who smashed past James who really should of saved it.

Player Ratings

James
Looking a bit erratic at the moment

Pamarot
Solid enough, but does not carry the threat of Jonno

Belhadj
better than the last 2 weeks, but where has the maverick in him gone?

Campbell
Played well really, did what he had to do and lost little

Distin
Like James, seem to have lost his usual calm assurance

Davis
See Mom

Hughes
Solid as always, but has no killer ball

Mvuemba
Poor on the day, but hopefully more to come

Kranjcar
Pompey looked to him for creativity, but he played it more sidewise than a crab, in a shell

Crouch
Touch deserted him at vital moments

Defoe
Scores more often with Big Brother rejects at the moment

Manager Rating
Trying to hard to turn a match with substitutions and tactical genius