Nugent Rescues Pompey
By Jim Bonner
Updated Sunday, 6th February 2011
Portsmouth 1 Derby County 1A superb late strike from David Nugent saved Pompey from what would have been a disastrous defeat to Derby County.
It was a scrappy game at a windy Fratton Park that wasn't allowed to flow by a petulant referee as both teams also contrived to kick the ball out of play. This certainly wasn't one for the purists.
Despite the poor quality of the match, Pompey dominated much of the first half and created the best chance when Lawrence sent Nugent through on goal but Miles Addison denied him his golden opportunity with a last gasp tackle.
Other opportunities were hard to come by and there were several shouts for handball in the box but the referee didn't want to give Pompey a penalty, and it was difficult to see from where I was sitting if he was right to or not.
After that spell of pressure it was Derby who eventually took the lead with their first meaningful attack of the game.
Tomasz Cwyka was found in acres of space and despite Ashdown's call in vain for offside, he delivered his cross to the unmarked Steve Davies who volleyed the ball into the net.
Cwyka may have had a goal himself but skewed his shot over the bar as Pompey went into the break a goal down with the disgruntled home support voicing their frustrations.
Steve Cotterill also voiced his frustrations at the referee who advised him to watch the rest of the match from the stands.
The second half was just as poor as the first half with the ball sailing out of play due to the wind and the referee blowing for little niggly fouls as well as giving Jonathan Hogg a yellow card for a challenge on Paul Green when he had clearly won the ball.
Nugent had the best of the chances as he headed wide from Kitson's cross and he really should have equalised when he volleyed over from close range when it looked easier to score.
But the Pompey striker came up trumps when it mattered most, striking a sweet volley past the onlooking Bywater in the 90th minute to salvage a draw.
Pompey may have snatched a stoppage time winner too but Kanu's goalbound shot was blocked and Mokoena "Quashie'ed" the loose ball into the Fratton End to bring an end to proceedings.
So, was a draw a good result? In the context of the game you'd have to say "yes" given the fact we were five minutes away from what would have been an unthinkable defeat to another team woefully out of form.
However, on the face of it, a draw doesn't really do enough to raise the low spirits of the Pompey fans. You could argue that the weather played its part and we might have had a penalty but the bottom line is that once again, we didn't play very well at home.
I'm not sure why Cotterill is sticking with this strange 4-2-3-1 formation as the players don't seem to know what position they're supposed to be playing in, hence the disjointed performance.
The back four are playing in positions that are unfamiliar to them for starters. From right to left our defence consisted of De Laet, Halford, Mokoena and Hreidarsson.
I think the defence would look more solid and balanced if Halford moved to right back, De Laet switched to left back and Hermann was moved into the centre to win the vast amount of long balls that are played in this division.
And why can't we play a simple 4-4-2 formation? Utaka may be gone but we do have players in Ward and De Laet who can play on the wings like Lawrence does but most importantly Dave Kitson needs a strike partner.
The former Reading man hasn't performed well since being forced to play up front on his own and had his best spell of form when Nugent was playing alongside him. I'm still not convinced that Nugent is a genuine threat from the wide areas.
But hey, I'm not a football manager and maybe Steve knows best. All I know is that this point may be one of the most important we get this season if it marks the start of a slow, but steady recovery.
I guess we'll have a much better idea of how the season will pan out when Pompey go to Doncaster next week, but the games against the sides below us will be ever more crucial after failing to beat Derby.
Pompey Player Ratings
Jamie Ashdown: 6 - Virtually nothing to do.
Ritchie De Laet: 6 - Impressive runs but passing should have been better.
Greg Halford: 6 - Did OK in makeshift role.
Aaron Mokoena: 6 - Solid enough.
Hermann Hreidarsson: 6 - Getting back to his best.
Liam Lawrence: 6 - Delivered some good crosses at times.
Jonathan Hogg: 6 - Settling into the midfield now.
Hayden Mullins: 6 - Did the usual job.
Joel Ward: 5 - Didn't really notice him.
David Nugent: 6 - Superb goal, but should have had more than one.
Dave Kitson: 5 - Frustrated up on his own.
Kanu (Ward 69): 6 - Added some extra quality to the frontline, and why wasn't there anyone in the box to meet his header late on?
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