Nugent Punishes Poor Palace

Last updated : 23 February 2011 By Jim Bonner
A single David Nugent goal was enough to seal a third consecutive win for Pompey who also kept a third straight clean sheet.

A blunt Crystal Palace side should have been beaten by more than just the one goal, in truth. However, nobody will complain after this result that now mean Portsmouth rest in mid-table security.

Jonathan Hogg came back into the side and replaced the injured Liam Lawrence whilst Kanu was missing. There is no official word on why he was missing but it's rumoured that he has returned to Nigeria on compassionate leave.

Playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, Pompey dominated much of the first half although the best chance fell to Anthony Gardner who was unmarked from a corner but could only head over the bar.

But that was as good as it got for Dougie Freedman as Steve Cotterill's men took control of the game. The best opportunities of the first half came from a Halford long throw that Palace didn't defend and David Cotterill's effort that sailed over the bar when he had been found in the box. He should have done better.

The highlight of the half (and possibly even the game) was Ritchie De Laet's superb piece of skill to bamboozle Neil Danns and leave him in his shadow as he ran up the pitch.

The Belgian probably earned the sponsor's "man of the match" just for that trick, even if Rocha was our best player on the night. I hope it will be shown on the TV highlights in the future just so anybody who didn't see it could see this cheeky piece of showboating.

The second half followed the same pattern as the first with Pompey keeping the ball well and having a couple of opportunties to score through free kicks, with Halford's drive being saved by Julian Speroni.

The pressure told in the end as Pompey took the lead in somewhat fortunate circumstances. Kitson flicked on Halford's throw for Nugent, who volleyed the ball straight into the ground but the bounce was enough to see the ball loop over Speroni and into the net.

You might have expected a response from the Eagles after that goal but barring a short spell of pressure, the Pompey defence marshalled the Palace attack well and left Ashdown with barely anything to do.

And there were still chances for Pompey to extend the lead but nobody could take advantage of the openings that were created and so the fans inside Fratton Park were only treated to the one goal when there really should have been more.

Still, this was an improved performance over Saturday's against Barnsley, mainly due to an improved range of passing and some excellent defending that nullified Palace's minimal threat.
Rocha was the top performer again, winning every challenge and ensuring that he was always one step ahead of the Palace frontmen. The others in the back four also played well, so it seems the famous Steve Cotterill organisation could be shining through, even if it does mean some of our attacking threat has to be sacrificed to keep these recent clean sheets.

This result now basically means that, barring a catastrophe or a points deduction, Portsmouth FC will be playing in the Championship next season. Mission (almost) accomplished.

Pompey Player Ratings

Jamie Ashdown: 6 - Barely anything to do.

Ritchie De Laet: 7 - Amazing piece of skill and defended well.

Ricardo Rocha: 8 - Set the standard at the back once again.

Greg Halford: 7 - Looks settled alongside Rocha.

Hermann Hreidarsson: 7 - Provided some threat up front as well as doing a good job at the back.

David Cotterill: 6 - Free kicks weren't too great, but whipped in some dangerous crosses and was always threatening.

Jonathan Hogg: 6 - Did OK but still hasn't seemed like he has settled in yet.

Joel Ward: 6 - Strong showing.

Hayden Mullins: 6 - Steady performance.

David Nugent: 6 - Fortunate goal, although nobody will care.

Dave Kitson: 6 - Worked hard as captain of the team.


Darryl Flahavan

Carl Dickinson

Aaron Mokoena (Ward 90): N/A - Typical time wasting sub.

Tom Kilbey

Nadir Ciftci