Date: 13th January 2007 at 5:48pm
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Premiership football returned after last weekends FA Cup Third Round ties; we travelled to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United, returning home with a point after a 1-1 draw.

Harry Redknapp made two changes from the side that beat Wigan in the Cup Niko Kranjcar and Benjani dropping to the bench with Djimi Traore (coming in for his debut) and Kanu replacing them. Traore’s involvement allowed Matty Taylor to move to a favourable advanced midfield position.

Stephen Quinn sent the blades in one up at half time but a late equaliser from Gary O’Neil meant we came home with a point and O’Neil can now get a hair cut!

First Half
Less than sixty seconds into his Sheffield United debut Jonathan Stead, picked up from Sunderland in midweek for £750,000 could have given the blades the lead but his header was happily accepted by David James.

Andrew Cole sent the first effort Pompey fashioned over the bar from 20-yards followed some ten minutes later by a drive from Matty Taylor from a similar range, this time Paul Gerrard was forced into a save albeit a comfortable one. Rob Hulse then forced James into a save at the other end before the deadlock was broken.

Having already been booked for one foul on Stead Linvoy Primus conceded another free kick against the same man shortly after. Stephen Quinn stepped up and curled a wonderful 20-yard effort beyond James and into the Pompey net.

As with the meeting between the two sides Pompey fell behind and also struggled in the first half. Despite a Gary O’Neil effort that went wide of the target and Cole missing a close range header we were finding it tough going and went in 1-0 down at the break.

Second Half
The second half was much delayed in starting after an incident within the Sheffield United fans. Someone was taken seriously ill require attention from a whole host on paramedics. Hopefully they will be OK?

The second half; again as with the meeting at Fratton before Christmas was much better for Pompey and we could have levelled early on but Sol Campbell couldn’t keep his effort down. He could only drive over the bar from 12-yards.

When Taylor’s effort had beaten Gerrard it also beat the goal completely, narrowly going wide of the goal preserving the blades lead. A change was taken Niko Kranjcar coming on for Primus seven minutes into the second half.

Gerrard was worked by Cole again in a frantic opening to the second half. Cole’s effort was very well saved by the former England U21 International keeper, tipping wide for a corner. Soon after the highly rated Phil Jagielka headed wide before Pompey debutant Djimi Traore shot wide.

Gerrard was being worked and substitute Kranjcar forced him into action again. His 20-yard effort again well saved being tipped away for another Pompey corner. A third forward was brought on with Benjani replacing Sean Davis with fifteen minutes to play.

With nine minutes to play the equaliser we deserved came. With Benjani chasing down a ball complete confusion between Claude Davis and Gerrard, who left the ball to each other allowed O’Neil to nip in and poach a goal tapping home from close range. FINALLY he can have a hair cut although it looks like he may have had a crafty cut along the way as it is!

Not satisfied with a point we went in search of a winner with Gerrard denying Cole again before the blades almost won it themselves in the last minute. Davis’ header coming back off the post to the relief of the travelling Pompey fans. Taylor still had time to force Gerrard into another save in injury time but the points had to be shared at the end.

Match Summary
The minimum we have to look for from all away games is a point; three would have been preferable but a team battling against relegation will never make it easy. The true character of a new Pompey this season once again saw us battle back from a goal down to claim at least a point. As I’ve constantly said a Pompey of times gone by wouldn’t have come back to get even that so today is a point won and not two lost.

Three points is a must next week against Charlton and despite them also being a team in real trouble we should win and win well.


Sheff United – Stephen Quinn 22
Pompey – Gary O’Neil 81

David James
Matty Taylor
Linvoy Primus (Niko Kranjcar 54)
Djimi Traore
Glen Johnson
Sol Campbell
Gary O’Neil
Pedro Mendes
Sean Davis (Benjani 74)
Kanu (Richard Hughes 88)
Andrew Cole

Substitutes Not Used
Jamie Ashdown
Andy Griffin