Date: 8th November 2008 at 4:57pm
Written by:

The dust seems to settle, then something or someone comes along to scuff it all up again. Today we went to Sunderland in search of something to desperately lift the flagging spirits. For a while it looked like things would get even worse, but from one down we came back to win it 2-1 with an injury time penalty.

The Match
Pompey started brightly, but were hit with a sucker punch – and something we knew we could not afford – as Djibril Cisse got in behind the defence to give Sunderland a dream start, and a nightmare one for Pompey after only 3 minutes. A second was only denied by the post as this came to our rescue in the opening 15 minutes to deny Kieran Richardson.

With heads down, the last thing that we needed at this point, Sunderland remained in control and Cisse was denied a second by David James who turned his effort away.

Sunderland remained in control for most of the opening 30 minutes as we struggled to get any foothold in the game. We kept giving the ball away and were not playing as a team and this helped allow Cisse get in again, with the defence nowhere to be seen, James again came to our rescue! Not only were heads down now, arguments were breaking out between players on the pitch – as we struggled…

As the half drew to a close we got better, but still did not threaten enough to look as though we were going to get anything from this game. Tony Adams had an important team talk to give at half time, but could his words inspire his players – did the players even care, those were the thoughts I had but could only hope they could!

Much like the 1st half we started the 2nd well, but went one better and got level with a cracker from Nadir Belhadj 5 minutes in. The heads were up, we were playing and suddenly believed – Jermain Defoe went close with a couple of other chances as we looked a completely different side…

The game opened up, but no real chances came after the early burst in the opening stages from us, although James did have to again save from Cisse – but he was offside – and Steed Malbranque. When the England keeper was finally beaten again fortunately the linesman had his flag up to rule out Cisse’s header for offside.

With around 20 minutes to play Adams played his first card substitute wise with Kanu coming on to replace Peter Crouch. A few minutes later, and a few minutes of end to end football – but with no clear cut chances – the next change was made with John Utaka coming on for Kranjcar.

In the closing minutes it was getting a bit nerve wrecking, not so much as we were under pressure but because it was a point that would be a big one – losing again due to a late goal would have crushed confidence, but we looked the more likely. Lassana Diarra almost pulled off a fine ball through to Defoe, whereas Utaka put in a fantastic ball but no one could get on the end of it, then moments later with another great chance to deliver he showed the other side of his game with a very disappointing cross.

With the injury time board going up for 3 minutes our moment of glory – or potential glory arrived. A rash challenge from El Hadji ‘the camel’ Diouf gave us a penalty. Defoe stepped up and made no mistake to score and we went mad! He then went off with Richard Hughes coming on to see us through – and we did it!

Match Summary
A poor, poor 1st half looked as though our season was going from bad to worse – the self belief was gone, players were arguing and we looked shocking. Whatever was said at half time paid off as we were much better in the 2nd half and picked up a massive 3pts, which ‘could’ be the turning point of our season – we needed the luck and we got it today.

Building on this is essential now, avoiding defeat was a major thing – winning was a fantastic bonus, even more so from 1-0 down.

Kranjcar (Utaka 75)
Defoe (Hughes 90)
Crouch (Kanu 69)

Substitutes Not Used
A Traore


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