Just like to say I am writing this report straight from the game, no replays have been witnessed and I haven’t heard either managers opinions, this is how I saw it.
Pompey took to the field with a 4-4-2 formation, my initial reaction was good, only doubt I had was whether either forwrd would have the pace to get in behind a solid Aston Villa defence, the score of our last premiership goal, or any goal for that matter was glued to the bench.
Mullins made his debut alongside Davis, and Pompeys very own thorn Heskey made his debut the other end.
Pompey and Villa started the game very sinmilarly, both knocking it about, but neither side testing either ‘keeper. Mullins looked tidy, and pennant was working hard and getting forward well, the only problem seemed to be both Belhadj and Davis’ radars were awry, since this was half our midfield, it was a concern.
Villa were having concerns too, Curtis davies seeming to slice everything that came at him.
first chance of the game fell to Mullins, his shot deflecting narrowly wide of the upright and Pompey had the first of what was to be about 100 corners.
On about 20 mins and Villa scored out of the blue, Friedel punted up the pitch, from I was Agbonlahor gave Distin and nudge and Heskey was left untracked by Campbell to bury into the bottom corner from the edge of the area, that familiar feeling was back in my guts.
Pompey had a few half-chances, Friedel saving well from one Pennant effort, and then Agbonlahor was clean through only to put a horrible poke wide.
Just before half-time and belhadj showed why he is no longer trusted at left-back, he was twice contrived to lose possesion to Gardner, and then in a show of Gavin Maguire like petulance just hacked the man down, yellow was flashed but another day could easily have been red. So half-time was here, we had most of the ball, fired umpteen corners for the bloke at the near post to head away, and generally huffed a bit.
During the restart I fully expected Belhadj to be dragged off and Traore to be on, not only was he lucky to still be on, but was also playing crap. The only change was Campbell coming off for Kaboul, no complaints from me there, Campbell is either solid or flaky these days, today was a Cadburys day.
The match slipped into the same routine, Pompey pushed forward, forced a corner (back post this time) and Villa relied on the breakaways, from my position aided by the slowest linesman i have ever seen, he waved play on even though he was on the halfway line nearly every time, no doubt having a chat with the ever so chatty Mr O’Neill. Referee Walton was not really eluding himself to the home support either, Pennant seemed to be wiped out totally by Barry as he burst forward, but Pompey were denied the chance to miss another penalty as he waved all appeals away.
With about 20 minutes to go, Belhadj really done himself proud, the blind, slow and clueless linesman missed a blatant hanball by Cuellar as Belhadj tried to juggle over his head, he indicated Villas way and Belhadj no doubt forgetting his yellow, first decided to have a slanging match and then belted the ball a full 4 yards away, out popped the red like a dogs lipstick, and off he marched, Pompey 1 down and down to 10 men, great.
The sending-off never really changed things, we again forced corner after corner, Villa again headed them away. Utaka came on for Kanu, much to the crowds and Nugent’s dibelief, but for once the Nigerian looked up for it, one run took him past 3 defenders, but he overhit the ball and then realised if he were to shoot with his left foot he would have nothing to stand on and Friedel smothered.
Time ticked on and Davis summed everything up with the last kick of the game, a tired limp shot that was nearer the KFC behind the ground than Friedel.
We came, we saw, we left home defeated and deflated again.
Pompey had the effort tonight, but we resembled a fat middle aged man with a lovely headband going for a jog, all effort, but never looked like getting anywhere.
Biggest mistake was leaving Belhadj on at half-time, he had one life and wasted it.
Lovely fella, always chatting to the ref and 4th official.
Pompey need a Mendes moment to kick start our season again, thing is, who will provide it?