A Tale Of Two Penalties

Portsmouth were denied victory over Queens Park Rangers after Tommy Smith scored a stoppage time penalty awarded for Liam Lawrence's "handball". Pompey had gone in front late on in the game with a controversial penalty incident of their own.

On balance of play it would probably be fair to say that Pompey were the better team and should have beaten what were an average QPR side.

There were plenty of "nearly" moments for the home side in the first half. Lawrence was inches away from getting on the end of Kitson's cross whilst Utaka forced a brilliant save from Kenny whose outstretched hand tipped the ball onto the bar when it looked like sailing into the top corner.

In contrast, the visitors could barely muster a noteworthy attempt on goal in the first half, mainly thanks to some excellent closing down from Brown and Mullins.

Rangers did improve after the break and Ashdown was tested by Kaspars Gorkss and Rob Hulse whilst Lawrence's own header from Kitson's cross at the other end was too tame to trouble Kenny.

But just as it looked like the game would end in a stalemate, the drama came in the last ten minutes.

Dave Kitson burst into the box and was brought down by Matthew Connolly in the box, giving referee Gavin Ward no choice but to award a penalty and show the red card to the Hoops defender.

Lawrence stepped up to take the penalty but Kenny guessed the right way and saved it, only for the referee's assistant to flag for it to be re-taken.

I've heard/read two stories as to why the spot kick was ordered to be re-taken. Some people/reports say that the QPR 'keeper had come off his line, whilst others say that there was encroachment in the box.

I have to say, it didn't look like Kenny had come too far off his line and the encroachment was minimal and usually referees don't order a re-take for something so petty, so I think Pompey were lucky to be given a second chance.

Lawrence took that second chance by rifling the ball into the centre of the goal to send Fratton Park bonkers as it looked like that Pompey would be the first team to defeat Neil Warnock's men this season.

However, just as the clock ticked into stoppage time, Lawrence was judged to have handled Smith's cross and the assistant referee made no hesitation in awarding QPR a penalty.

An irate Lawrence protested furiously at both the referee and his assistant, claiming that the ball had hit him on the chest and showing them the mark on his chest as proof that the ball didn't hit his hand. Fans who were close to the incident are also certain that the ball hit him in the chest.

Gavin Ward refused to change his mind but the Pompey midfielder continued his dissent and was shown a second yellow card and his dismissal means that Pompey will be without their most influential player when Doncaster come to Fratton Park on Saturday.

Predictably, the resulting spot kick was scored by a player who is still technically owned by Portsmouth although Ashdown almost thwarted him by almost getting a hand to the ball.

So, the league leaders had got out of jail and remain unbeaten but if you look at the other side of the coin then you could say that we were also bailed out by a very generous decision.

I'm more disappointed by the fact that we were the better team on the night but couldn't finish the job. The draw leaves us in 14th place with 22 points, just two points from a play-off place.

But with Halford limping off early on in the game, Lawrence suspended and Nugent still unavailable, I wonder if the players will have it in them to bounce back from this setback by beating Doncaster this weekend.

Pompey Player Ratings

Jamie Ashdown: 7 - A couple of good saves, vastly improved since the season began.

Greg Halford: N/A - Replaced by Ward early on.

Ibrahima Sonko: 6 - One poor pass almost played us into trouble late on but he got back to make the block. Otherwise, another good performance.

Aaron Mokoena: 6 - Solid showing.

Carl Dickinson: 5 - Still fails to convince me.

Liam Lawrence: 6 - Mixed night for him.

Hayden Mullins: 7 - Did his job well without being noticed.

Michael Brown: 7 - Never stopped working.

John Utaka: 7 - Willing to get back and defend as well as take players on.

Kanu: 7 - Held the ball up and linked up well.

Dave Kitson: 7 - Ran himself into the ground.


Darryl Flahavan

Hermann Hreidarsson

Ricardo Rocha

Joel Ward (Halford 27): 6 - Slotted in fine.

Richard Hughes

Nadir Ciftci (Utaka 86): N/A - Barely touched the ball.