Battle At Bramall Lane

Last updated : 15 January 2007 By Jim Bonner
Pompey took an unlikely draw at Bramall Lane in a scrappy affair with Sheffield United. The hosts took the lead after Stephen Quinn bent in a free kick but in the last 10 minutes Gary O'Neil got his first goal for the club after a complete cock up between Claude Davis and Paul Gerrard; the Sheffield United 'keeper.

The first half was utter dog tripe from a Pompey point of view. Jon Stead could have scored in the first minute, Andy Cole missed two chances; one a sitter as he headered wide from a cross when he had the goal at his mercy.

We went behind after Linvoy gave away a silly foul and the resulting free kick found the top corner of the net. We were basically given the runaround by a team struggling at the bottom of the league and when we had the ball we just hoofed it up to the front two and lost every second ball because Neil Warnock's men had far more determination.

Kick-off for the second half was delayed because of a major incident in the Kop end of the ground where it's understood a woman passed away after a heart attack. If this is the case then I wish to express my condolenses to her family and friends. An incident like this put the whole game of football into perspective and makes you realise that there are more important things in life than football games.

Update: Thankfully the woman did not die but is in hospital. Hopefully she makes a full recovery.

When the game did begin again, Pompey came out of the traps and all of a sudden looked a better side. We dominated possession for the majority of the second half and it was Sheffield who couldn't keep the ball.

Niko Kranjcar came on for Primus because he wasn't having a good game and had just been injured but the sub that changed the game well in our favour was when Benjani came on for the anonymous Sean Davis.

The pace of the Zimbabwe striker caused United problems and we looked a much better team with him on the pitch. Saying that, for all our possession and corners we never really looked like scoring and looked like we were going to be beaten. But in the 81st minute we were gifted an equaliser...

Claude Davis went to sheild the ball back to his goalkeeper but then got caught in two minds, neither player cleared it and Benjani's persistance meant the ball broke straight to Gary O'Neil who tapped into an empty net to finally score his first goal of the season and get that messy barnet cut!

He won't score an easier goal all season but any hopes of going on a scoring run will be ended because he picked up his 5th yellow card in the game and is now banned for the Charlton game. The foul that earnt him the booking was never a foul, as the other player had dived.

I was delighted that we got a goal from absolutely nothing but we almost conceded in the last minute as Davis had a header that hit the post. We could have also nicked it in stoppage time as Matt Taylor had a quick free kick saved well by Gerrard.

A draw was a fair result and I'm happy with that. This game was much like the one at Fratton Park as we were awful in the first half but much better in the second. This match was scrappier though and neither team created many clear cut chances. It's a good point for us, especially with Bolton also drawing and Tottenham losing 3-2 at home to Newcastle today.

We have a good run of fixtures in the league coming up. Home games with Charlton, Middlesbrough and Man City with a trip to Wigan in between the last two games presents a great opportunity to break our Premiership record points total of 45. It's just a matter of taking that chance and really giving us hope of securing a UEFA Cup place.

Finally, Sacha has finally spoken out. His interview with the Sunday Times might do a lot to ease the fears of the doom merchants amongst us Pompey fans. You can read the full article by clicking here.

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 6 - Wasn't really tested but took the ball well and had no chance with the goal.

Glen Johnson: 7 - Supposedly "injured", I was glad to see Glen in the starting lineup and he was one of our better performers. Good going forward and at the back but should deliver the ball earlier.

Linvoy Primus: 5 - Had a poor game and was subbed for Kranjcar early in the second half.

Sol Campbell: 7 - Very strong at the back.

Djimi Traore: 6 - Solid debut from Traore. Got caught out of position occasionally but made some decent challenges and headers.

Gary O'Neil: 6 - Easy goal but worked well with Johnson on the right.

Sean Davis: 5 - Outbattled in midfield.

Pedro Mendes: 5 - Anonymous other than from free kicks.

Matthew Taylor: 7 - Battled well and put in some decent deliveries.

Kanu: 6 - Held the ball up well but never had a sniff at goal.

Andy Cole: 5 - Missed two very good chances for a player of his quality.


Jamie Ashdown

Andy Griffin

Richard Hughes: N/A - Late sub with no time to make an impact.

Niko Kranjcar: 6 - Looked alright when he came on. Almost scored.

Benjani: 6 - Swung the game in our favour when he came on. His persistance led to the equaliser.