In The Nik Of Time

Last updated : 28 April 2007 By Jim Bonner
Pompey remembered Alan Ball in the perfect way at Fratton Park today by beating Liverpool (Reserves) 2-1 with two swift counter-attacks.

Sol Campbell was missing meaning a start for former Red Djimi Traore whilst Dejan moved to the centre. Sean Davis was on the bench so Gary O'Neil took his place in the centre and Lauren moved to right midfield with Glen Johnson playing at righ back. Liverpool played what looked like a reserve team with Xabi Alonso and Craig Bellamy the only first teamers taking part for them.

The game wasn't great to start off with and didn't get going until Gary O'Neil tested Dudek with a long range curler then Matt Taylor went off injured soon after but it only looked like a minor problem. Pompey then took the lead as David James' long punt upfield and caught out dodgy Dudek who came miles out of his goal, allowing the alert Benjani to flick the ball past him and head into an empty net.

It didn't take much longer for the second to come. Niko Kranjcar had come on for the injured Taylor and Lauren produced a sublime diagonal ball from right to left into the path of the Croatian who had burst past the Liverpool defence on the left, he took it into the box and then produced a cool finish with the outside of his right foot to double our advantage.

After half-time Liverpool came out looking brighter but the match was overshadowed by the superb constant chanting of "Alan Ball's Blue and White Army" that the great man himself would have been proud of. Liverpool got one back after Hyypia headed in from a corner not long after Benjani should have made it 3-0.

Jermaine Pennant was introduced and the away side applied more pressure down the left with the substitute and new boy Insua causing us problems, trying to play reported wantaway Bellamy in on our goal but Linvoy was there to make the saving challenge as he has been time and time again this season.

Liverpool continued to probe but couldn't find a way through a stubborn Pompey backline and we held on for a marginally deserved win by not playing amazingly well but definitely performing well enough to win a Premiership football match. Some of the football in the first half was of top quality and was of fitting tribute for Bally as Fratton Park sung his name all game.

This result has put us back into 7th, only a point behind Everton who lost at home to Man United and 2 behind Bolton who drew with Chelsea. Spurs won and Reading play on Monday so we could still drop but next week's game at Goodison is huge for the UEFA Cup battle.

Today was about Alan Ball though and this result has done the man proud.

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 7 - Made a couple of decent saves, typical solid Jamo performance and a good assist for Benjani's goal too!

Glen Johnson: 7 - Coped with Gonzalez well on his return.

Linvoy Primus: 8 - Immense yet again.

Dejan Stefanovic: 7 - Steady in the centre.

Djimi Traore: 6 - Solid, but I'm still not convinced.

Lauren: 8 - Impresses me every time I see him. Top quality pass for Kranjcar's goal.

Gary O'Neil: 7 - Workaholic in the centre.

Richard Hughes: 7 - Solid outing once again.

Matthew Taylor: N/A - Went off injured early-ish.

Benjani: 8 - Ran his arse off and gave Liverpool's young defenders the runaround as well as getting a goal.

Kanu: 6 - Didn't get involved in the game.


Jamie Ashdown

Niko Kranjcar: 7 - Quality goal and some decent passing suggest he's finally settling in.

Arnold Mvuemba

Sean Davis: N/A - Time-wasting sub.

Lomana LuaLua: N/A - Wasn't given much time.