Danny Boy Rescues Pompey

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 27 January 2010
Danny Webber came off the substitutes bench to equalise against West Ham and keep Pompey's faint hopes of Premier League survival alive.

The first 20 minutes of the game aren't worth mentioning because it was utter dross and a poor advert for the top flight of English football. However, Pompey fans were indebted to Asmir Begovic for keeping Pompey level during the first half.

The Bosnian (NOT Serbian, as so many so-called professional journalists believe) 'keeper made three outstanding saves during the game. The first he didn't know much about as Frank Nouble struck his shot straight at him after he had closed the West Ham striker down and then got back to save Diamanti's follow up.

The best of his saves came when the Hammers played through Pompey's defence and Collison looked certain to curl his shot into the corner but Begovic superbly tipped the ball round the post.

Pompey had their chances in the first half too as Piquionne was very close to tapping in Hreidarsson's cross-shot, Mokoena's free kick was well saved by Robert Green whilst Mark Noble had to clear Kaboul's effort off the line.

However, Gianfranco Zola would have been the happier of the two managers at the break, as his side would have been two goals up if it wasn't for Begovic.

The Hammers did take the lead early in the second half though as Pompey failed to clear a corner and Matthew Upson managed to somehow chest the ball into the net after outbattling Kaboul.

There was little to come after that from Pompey as West Ham dealt with the direct balls forward quite comfortably and never really looked like conceding. I began to fear we'd lose the game we couldn't afford to lose after Marc Wilson spurned a free header from a corner.

I felt my thoughts were to be confirmed when Piquionne went off with what looked like a hand injury and Grant readied Danny Webber to come on, whilst Zola was ready to give Carlton Cole his first appearance since a long-term injury.

At that point I said to the fan standing beside me "That's why West Ham are going to stay up and we're probably going to go down. They can bring on an England international striker whilst we can only bring on Danny "fucking" Webber!"

But just moments later Utaka played in the ex-Sheffield United man and he cooly slotted past Green to level the scores. The fan beside me started laughing at me after cheering as I was forced to eat a large, but very welcome slice of humble pie.

Webber had a chance to win it late on but volleyed over the bar and Pompey were forced to settle for a share of the spoils after a drab game. We really needed the three points but I refuse to accept relegation after this wafer-thin Blues side managed to claw back a draw against the better side on the night.

As much as I have to credit our lads for coming back, I have to direct some criticism at Avram Grant as I don't think he got his tactics right last night.

I could understand why we might want to play hoof ball and bypass our four midfielders who were outnumbered by West Ham's five but Upson and Tomkins were winning virtually every long ball Pompey could muster..

Why did Grant not play wider and get at Faubert and Spector who were clearly West Ham's weak links in the defence? I think we must have got the ball wide about twice last night when we really should have put their full backs under much more pressure.

But a point is better than none although our chances of survival remain very slim and we're going to have to find a result in our next three games before the big derby clash but taking anything from Eastlands, Craven Cottage and Old Trafford is going to be extremely difficult.

The next few days are going to be pivotal in Pompey's future, not just on the pitch but off it too.

Pompey Player Ratings

Asmir Begovic: 9 - Pompey were indebted to him after outstanding saves.

Steve Finnan: 6 - Good defensively but rarely got forward.

Younes Kaboul: 6 - Sound game marred by letting Upson score.

Marc Wilson: 6 - Continues to improve but missed golden opportunity with that free header.

Hermann Hreidarsson: 5 - Sub-par, has age finally caught up with him?

Angelos Basinas: 6 - Closed down too quickly to have same influence as on Saturday.

Hayden Mullins: 5 - Didn't impress me.

Kevin-Prince Boateng: 6 - Too selfish at times.

Frederic Piquionne: 5 - No joy against West Ham's defence.

John Utaka: 6 - Improved after poor first half and provdied Webber for equaliser.

Substitutes

Jamie Ashdown

Anthony Vanden Borre (Mullins 64): 6 - Added extra threat.

Tal Ben-Haim

Richard Hughes

Matt Ritchie

Danny Webber (Piquionne 71): 7 - Instant impact, cool finish.

Portsmouth Match Reports


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