Pompey shared the spoils with West ham tonight, but it was another chance to drag ourselves nearer our rivals gone once more, with 3 very tough away games to follow, you really felt Pompey would of gone for broke, but another wingless line up designed to suffocate the other team was ultimately our own undoing.
Steve Finnan returned to right back in front of the more attack minded Vanden Borre, while Basinas took his place in midfield with Mokoena, Mullins and Boateng, Matt Ritchie finding his way onto the bench.
The match got under way and immeadiately settled into a scrappy affair, neither team grabbed the game by the scruff and possesion frequently changed, Hreidarsson almost squared for Piquionne on 15 minutes, but the Frenchman lacked a couple of vital inches to his right leg to convert.
After 20 minutes came a frenetic burst of action, first Begovic showed why we are prepared to let James go, Nouble burst clean through and our Canadian/Serb spread himself to save, the ball broke to Diamanti but Asmir was back on his feet and diving full stretch to save once more, quality keeping. Not to be outdone however was Green, he had to go full length to save from Mokoena of all people!
As the tables turned back up the other end, Begovic outdid anything that had passed so far, Collison played a one-two and curled for the corner, out came a Canadian oak of an arm and saved once more, truly outstanding once more.
The pendulum swung once more and Boateng hooked a half cleared ball back over Green, but Noble was on hand to clear off the line.
After 5 minutes of blood and thunder, a curtain of mediocrity fell down once more, Pompey looked very narrow and any long balls pumped over the top were being easilt dealt with, Utaka was a shadow of the man who tormented Sunderland at the weekend, but this in turn was a result of poor distribution from the deep.
After half-time we expected Grant to have delivered a sermon, but the same line up appeared and with it the same formation which was narrower than Specks lane 10 minutes before kick off.
West ham took the lead in curious fashion almost immeadiately, a corner hit a cluster of players, but it appeared to just bundle off of Upson and into a gaping net, poor defending but ultimately a direct response to Pompey’s lack of ambition.
On the hour Pompey should of been level, Basinas swung in a corner and Wilson headed over from about 4 yards, a golden chance for his first notch for the club.
Grant obviously awoke to Pompey’s lack of an outlet, Vanden Borre replace Mullins and it almost led to an equaliser, Utaka got wide and his pass found itself at the feet of Boateng, with no-one challenging he snatched his shot and scuffed wide, Green really should of been beaten.
With quarter of an hour to go, Webber came on with Cole for the Hammers, but is was the Pompey man who shone, equalising just 2 minutes later, Utaka finding his new partner and he finished between Green’s legs (oo-er!)
Webber almost repeated the dose minutes later, Utaka crossed again and his flick flashed over.
Both teams pressed for a winner, but neither had the quality, Utaka exploding to life in the final seconds to skip past a couple of bodies and flash in a drive that Green held comfortably.
1-1 and all over, another chance gone, but playing it safe at home is surely not the way to claw ourselves up off the bottom, especially against the teams around us.
Grant got it wrong on the day, I don’t want to join on Macca from the Quay’s bandwagon, but even my 12 year old son said after 15 minutes that Pompey were too narrow!