Battleground

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 26 November 2006
Pompey produced their worst team performance of the season as Newcastle earnt a deserved 1-0 win at St. James' Park and it would have been more if it wasn't for yet another outstanding performance from David James.

I'll get straight to the point.

We played against a struggling side as if we wanted to settle for a point. We showed little ambition and our midfield were clearly second best to Newcastle's who controlled the majority of the game. The returning Kieron Dyer and Obafemi Martins ran our defence ragged at times whilst we created little.

Both sides had players who went off injured in a game that had little malice. Parker, N'Zogbia and Milner went off for the home side. Pompey were rocked by the news that LuaLua picked up an ankle injury prior to the game leaving Benjani and Kanu as our only two fit strikers. Dejan Stefanovic had to be replaced by Matt Taylor at half time but then he also got injured during the game and because Harry had used all three subs, poor Matty had to try and last the game when he clearly couldn't continue.

Not that it mattered as apart from David James who was outstanding and maybe Sol and Linvoy, everyone else in a blue shirt were poor. I don't know why we sat back against a Newcastle side struggling for confidence as I felt that after going in a half-time 0-0, that we could go for it.

Instead Newcastle upped their game and Dyer was allowed to create most of their opportunities. Noe Pamarot then made a mess of handling N'Zogbia who then slid in Antoine Sibierski; who has a habit of scoring against us, to tap in the winner. After that, you had just as well written us off getting an equaliser because we never look capable of it. If anything, the Magpies could have added to their 1-0 lead.

Our performance was just not good enough and we played more like a side in the bottom four than the top four. Today's loss was the fourth on the trot away from home and we now face a daunting trip to Anfield with a collection of injuries and low confidence. We're still 4th in the league but I feel we have to go back to basics and show much more determination and grit like we did at the start of the season if we're going to stay there, or even challenge for Europe. The players need a kick up the arse now before our two "season-defining" games at home to Aston Villa and Everton.

There's just something about St. James' Park isn't there? We always go there and play absolutely crap!

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 9 - As his new hairstyle showed, he was Superman in goal. Are you watching Steve McClaren?

Noe Pamarot: 5 - Had a good first half but made a crucial mistake that led to Newcastle's winner in the second.

Linvoy Primus: 6 - Relatively solid but Martins and Dyer gave him the runaround.

Sol Campbell: 7 - Strong and prevented the Geordies creating even more opportunities.

Dejan Stefanovic: 5 - Went off injured. Not his fault at all.

Gary O'Neil: 6 - Too slow on the ball but was the most creative of our midfielders. Which isn't saying much.

Pedro Mendes: 5 - The most noticeable thing he did all game was almost score an own goal if it wasn't for James' superb reactions. Not his day.

Sean Davis: 5 - Generally poor. Couldn't get a hold of the game.

David Thompson: 5 - Ineffective on the left.

Benjani: 5 - Couldn't create anything.

Kanu: 5 - Made Titus Bramble look good.

Subs

Jamie Ashdown

Andy O'Brien

Matthew Taylor: 5 - Tried hard despite being injured. A doubt for Wednesday.

Niko Kranjcar: 5 - Couldn't change the game.

Rodolphe Douala: 5 - Didn't do anything to convince he should start a game.

Portsmouth Match Reports


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