Lights Out As Pompey Let Lead Slip Twice

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 23 January 2011
Portsmouth are still waiting for their first home win since October, but at least have stopped the run of four straight defeats after a 2-2 draw with Leeds United.

It was a bizarre game courtesy of two floodlight failures in the second half which stopped play just as Leeds looked like pushing for a winner but a draw will probably be seen as a fair result after Pompey dominated the first half.

Greg Halford, in at centre back for the suspended Aaron Mokoena, had two headers narrowly miss the target from Liam Lawrence deliveries whilst John Utaka had a curling effort well saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

The Nigerian then should have done better after a good move that resulted in him scuffing his shot tamely wide.

With the hosts in total control in the game you felt a goal would come and it arrived in fine fashion when Lawrence set up Joel Ward to hammer the ball past Schmeichel from 25 yards.

Pompey continued to press forward and keep the ball very well thanks to some neat passing in midfield. The meagre threat in the first half from Leeds came when Robert Snodgrass curled a free kick straight into the arms of Jamie Ashdown who had nothing else to do all half.

Unfortunately, the first thing Ashdown would do in the second half would be to pick the ball out of his net as Simon Grayson's side equalised just two minutes after the break.

A cheap free kick was awarded to the away team for handball and it the ball was aimed towards the back post to Jonny Howson who squared the ball across goal for Luciano Becchio to tap in.

Pompey regained the lead when Kanu nodded the ball into an area for Utaka who shrugged off his marker and slotted the ball into the corner.

Steve Cotterill's men then contrived to throw the lead away again as substitute Davide Somma equalised with his first touch of the ball just two minutes after Utaka's goal.

I feel Ashdown might have done better to save Somma's shot but the defence again have to be criticised for allowing Leeds to play through them so easily.

With the scores level Fratton Park was then bizarrely hit with a floodlight failure just as Utaka was running through on goal (and then squandered his shot wide) although the referee had blown to stop play before his effort.

The tannoy announcer did his best to stress that it was an external problem that had hit areas of Portsmouth and not just the stadium but that couldn't stop the "pay the bills!" chant.

Play resumed after a while and if Ashdown was at fault for Leeds' equaliser, he redeemed himself with a superb save to deny Howson a winner after the midfielder's long range strike was turned around the post.

The lights then went out again with three minutes to go much to the frustration/amusement of the fans in the ground. When play did restart, neither side could force a winner and Pompey would have to settle for a draw.

You can look at this result in two ways.

The first is to be disappointed that Pompey did not take advantage of their first half dominance and go on to score more, only to then squander the lead twice in the second half.

The other side of the coin shows that we've drawn a game that we might have gone on to lose. There can be little debate that Leeds were in the ascendancy after their equaliser and there may be the feeling that the floodlight failure helped us as it stopped their rhythm.

So, a point against one of the best sides in the division isn't necessarily a bad one, especially as the only aim this season is to stay in this division, even if we have to limp over the line due to lack of resources.

Still, it is frustrating to see the defence continue to make costly mistakes and fail to deal with even the most basic set-pieces. Pompey have conceded no less than two goals in every game since the turn of the year but what can be done to address this issue? I suspect nothing.

The lack of home wins since October is starting to grate me too. Pompey haven't beaten anybody at Fratton Park since a 2-1 victory against Forest on October 30th. The five games since then have only yielded three points.

We can only hope that when Burnley visit the famous old ground on Tuesday that it will not be six home games without a win.

Pompey Player Ratings

Jamie Ashdown: 6 - Not much to do bar one late save.

Ritchie De Laet (Rocha 64): 6 - Unsure why he was replaced, suspect it was an injury.

Greg Halford: 6 - Did OK on his return.

Ibrahima Sonko: 6 - Not so many aimless hoofs this week.

Carl Dickinson: 6 - Better than recent showings.

Liam Lawrence: 7 - Whipped in some dangerous crosses.

Joel Ward: 7 - Reputation continues to grow.

Hayden Mullins: 7 - Did well in his understated role.

John Utaka: 7 - Hit and miss but looked a threat for most of the match.

David Nugent: 6 - Didn't stand out.

Kanu: 6 - Linked play well at times.

Substitutes

Darryl Flahavan

Ricardo Rocha: 6 - Did his job.

Hermann Hreidarssom

Nadir Ciftci

Tom Kilbey

Portsmouth Match Reports


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