Blues Cruise To Victory

Last updated : 26 August 2009 By Jim Bonner
Pompey won their first game of the season with a comfortable victory over Hereford United.

There were no real scares for the majority of the paltry 6,645 crowd as Frederic Piquionne slotted in after 20 minutes and then beat the Bulls defence to cross for John Utaka who scored an easy tap in three minutes later.

Niko Kranjcar killed the game near the end of the first half with a strike that Bartlett got a hand to but couldn't keep out and the only real chance for the visitors came when Anthony Vanden Borre made a mistake and presented them with a chance to pull one back.

Pompey added a fourth in the second half through Richard Hughes, who scored only his second goal for the club following his FA Cup winner against Liverpool back in 2004.

Pompey could have had more despite the League Two side trying to contain things and they scored a consolation penalty after Andy D'Urso strangely ruled that Begovic fouled Tristan Plummer when it looked like he'd taken the ball cleanly. Plummer scored but Mokoena would have added to the rout late on if it wasn't for a decent point blank save from the Hereford goalkeeper.

So, a nice comfortable first win handed to us by a Hereford side that looked too nervous to take the game to us when we were vulnerable. I'd have expected us to look good against a struggling League Two side but if I'm honest I'm just grateful that we've won the game comfortably and avoided a massive upset.

Another positive is that because the tickets were cheaper today there was an opportunity for our fanbase to grow and newcomers to Fratton Park would have enjoyed the result today.

I took my friend and her two kids to the game and they thoroughly enjoyed it and could well take advantage of the "Kids for a quid" offer for the Bolton game so we may have just gained a few new fans for the future!

That's where the good news ends though as the main talking point tonight will be Sylvain Distin's request to leave Pompey and his omission from the side, even if the official line is that he was injured in training.

Although Pompey have only played three league games it's clear to see that Distin is a cut above the rest of our defenders and to sell him to Villa or Everton as rumoured would be like waving the white flag in our bid for Premier League survival.

I'm hoping events in the coming week will change his mind or Paul Hart can persuade him to stay because he is the only man capable of organising and keeping our defence together. I couldn't blame him if a man of his ambition jumped ship but if he did then it would be almost certain that this ship will sink.

Pompey have also agreed a fee of £1.8 million with Watford for Tommy Smith with the money to be paid from the funds the club receive from Sky. All I can say is this signing is like we're preparing for the Championship already because Smith has never looked like a Premier League player to me.

Here's hoping there is better news to come during the week.

Pompey Player Ratings

Asmir Begovic: 6 - Harshly gave away a penalty but little to do otherwise.

Anthony Vanden Borre: 5 - Still needs time to settle in.

Younes Kaboul: 6 - Steady as expected.

Joel Ward: 6 - Didn't look out of place against League Two opposition on his debut.

Nadir Belhadj: 7 - Supported the attack well.

John Utaka: 7 - Hereford defence couldn't handle his pace.

Angelos Basinas: 6 - Average performance.

Aaron Mokoena: 6 - Had plenty of space.

Richard Hughes: 7 - Well taken goal.

Niko Kranjcar: 7 - Class showed against weak opposition.

Frederic Piquionne: 8 - A real handful, looks genuine quality.


Jamie Ashdown

James Hurst

Matt Ritchie

Gauthier Mahoto (Hughes 76): N/A - Slotted in nicely.

Hayden Mullins

Kanu (Piquionne 64): 6 - Added a touch of class.

David Nugent (Utaka 46): 5 - Should have had at least one goal.