Chin Up!

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 22 October 2006
Pompey were beaten by the Champions at Stamford Bridge today but should be by no means ashamed or disheartened by the result after a quality battling performance for the majority of the game.

And surprise surprise! Look who scored against us! Andriy Shevchenko; without a goal in 10 games got the opener via a deflection and then Michael Ballack; previously without a goal for his new club headered in the second which ultimately gave them the win. Pompey have become victims of "Sods Law" once again!

We started the game very well. We won a succession of corners and Kanu headed narrowly wide early on. The 4-5-1 with Benjani on the right worked well as Mwaruwari gave Ashley Cole hell on his side. Chelsea got into the game though and I knew that Noe Pamarot would end up struggling against Arjen Robben and I wasn't wrong as Robben often breezed past Glen Johnson's replacement with ease and started forming a personal battle with David James, who got the better of the Chelsea wide man every time.

Chelsea continued to pile on the pressure when we swtiched to a 4-4-2 but every shot either went wide or was saved by David James, including a superb stretching save from Shevchenko's curler. His saves and the tenacity of our midfield meant that we went into the break at 0-0.

Kanu went off reportedly injured at half time and Sean Davis replaced him as Harry went back to 4-5-1. Unfortunately it didn't work and Chelsea took the lead as Robben got through on the left once again and squared the ball to Shevchenko who shot and finally found the net although the ball deflected off Sol Campbell.

Pompey would then have a funny five minutes and just fall apart at the back as the ball was crossed into the area, Drogba was allowed to head to Ballack unmarked who then headed into the net to double Chelseas lead. Drogba then thought he scored as James parried a shot into his path but thankfully the linesman flagged him offside. It was ultimately this period of the match that ended up costing us the game.

Credit to our players for not letting their heads drop despite a difficult period in the game for them. We actually started playing some decent football again once Andy Cole came on and when the ball broke in the box for Benjani to tap in after Matt Taylor scrambled the ball to him, we could finally celebrate a goal against Chelsea in the Premiership and it was game on once again!

We kept pressing as the Chelsea fans got nervous so Mourinho brought on Makelele and Boulharouz to tighten things up to make sure we didn't get another goal. We could have nicked one at the end if David Thompson didn't blast over a free kick in injury time but it wasn't to be as Chelsea walked out winners.

Like Harry, I can't complain about losing to the Champions. They were the better side after the first twenty minutes where we really had a go at them and if it wasn't for David James then the score could have been worse. I do think that if Glen Johnson was allowed to play then we might have had a different result as Pamarot was exposed all game and could not handle Robben. We played well again when we were 2-0 down so although Chelsea probably deserved to win the fans and players of PFC can hold their heads up high after a good performance where we didn't disgrace ourselves and made Chelsea nervous towards the end of the game.

If we keep this level of performance up we should have a very good season so we need to make sure we beat Reading next week before our trip to Old Trafford.

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 9 - Outstanding. Kept us in it time and time again and further justified the "England's number one" chants. Man of the match by a distance.

Noe Pamarot: 4 - Got owned by Robben all game and couldn't handle him. If only Glen Johnson could have played.

Linvoy Primus: 7 - Solid once again from Linvoy.

Sol Campbell: 6 - Not his best game, made too many errors on the ball and allowed Drogba to assist Ballack for Chelsea's second.

Matthew Taylor: 7 - Battling performance that ultimately resulted in an assist for Benjani. Got forward well.

Gary O'Neil: 6 - Tireless but didn't have too much influence on the game.

Pedro Mendes: 7 - Classy all round display from Mendes. Passed the ball well and covered when needed.

Manuel Fernandes: 6 - Not the best game to display his obvious talent.

Niko Kranjcar: 6 - Delivered a couple of decent crosses but struggled to have any influence on the game.

Benjani: 8 - Made a mug of Ashley Cole at the start and worked his arse off once again. He deserved his goal.

Kanu: 5 - Had one header off target before being subbed at half time.

Subs

Dean Kiely

Andy O'Brien

David Thompson: 5 - Late sub. Wasted a set-piece in stoppage time.

Sean Davis: 6 - Did OK but nothing worth noting.

Andy Cole: 6 - Tried his best against the dogged Chelsea defence.

Portsmouth Match Reports


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