Blackburn Bogey Hits Fratton Once Again
The result virtually ends our challenge for a UEFA Cup spot via the league and the bad news doesn't end there as David James has a calf injury that may rule him out of the FA Cup Final.
Jamie Ashdown took his place and to be fair he didn't do too badly when he was called upon, though some will argue that he could have caught the ball that he punched which ended up leading to Blackburn's goal.
A dull first half did little to inspire the rather quiet fans inside Fratton Park today. Ashdown only had to make one save whilst Defoe was getting flagged offside every time he beat the Blackburn back line. It was a first 45 minutes that was your typical "end-of-season-nothing-to-play-for" affair, the only difference being is that we actually did have something to play for.
The second half was slightly more inspiring with Pompey having the better of the play and creating a couple of chances but they were mainly long range shots that never looked like troubling Friedel.
At the other end Ashdown produced a great save from Nelsen after Bentley's corner had caused confusion in the box, but he couldn't prevent Santa Cruz scoring against the run of play after he had played a one-two with ex-loanee Jason Roberts.
That goal caused Pompey to raise their game after such a tepid performance, but despite plenty of pressure and a flurry of corners late on we couldn't break through and Mark Hughes' men held on and condemned Pompey to their third 1-0 league defeat at home this season.
From a paying fan's perspective, I wouldn't be happy with such a half-arsed effort when there's still a prize to play for in the league. I understand that nobody wants to get injured before the final but that shouldn't be at the cost of our pre-Wembley form.
It's not that we played particularly poorly and in fact I thought we were the better side on balance of play. However, if the attitude was better then there's no reason why we shouldn't have beat Blackburn and kept ourselves in the race for Europe.
As it stands we have two virtually meaningless games left in the league and we're sweating on David James' fitness ahead of our biggest game in 69 years. We really do need to get our winning mentality back before Wembley though, so maybe those last two games won't be so meaningless after all.
Perhaps Harry should shake things up a bit, because there were a few players out there today who were wrongfully playing as if they were already guaranteed a place in the Cup Final team.
Pompey Player Ratings
Jamie Ashdown: 6 - Did OK in James' absence with a terrific save but a weak punch leading to the goal.
Glen Johnson: 7 - Good display.
Sol Campbell: 6 - Struggled with Roberts all day.
Sylvain Distin: 7 - His usual self.
Lauren: 6 - Solid at left back.
John Utaka: 6 - Missed his pace when subbed at half-time with a twisted ankle.
Lassana Diarra: 7 - Probably the best player on the pitch.
Papa Bouba Diop: 6 - Average.
Sulley Muntari: 6 - Guilty of some poor passing.
Kanu: 6 - Offered little going forward.
Jermain Defoe: 7 - Lively but should have grabbed a goal.
Niko Kranjcar: 6 - Not at his best, especially at right midfield.
Milan Baros: N/A - Introduced too late to change the game.