Perfect Plan

Last updated : 01 January 2008 By Jim Bonner
The horrible memories of Saturday's defeat to Boro have been vanquished after a comfortable 2-0 win at the Madejski Stadium, though Reading had to play the majority of the game with 10 men and we made the extra man count.

It was only three minutes into the game when Benjani got in behind Ibrahima Sonko and was tripped by the Reading defender. Mike Dean pointed to the spot and then brandished a red card to ensure that he would face the wrath of the home fans for the rest of the game.

Still, we're Pompey and we do things the hard way. Niko Kranjcar's spot kick had hit the woodwork and the Pompey fans were left cursing their luck once again. Benjani, Kanu and Kranjcar have all missed penalties this season so if we get another one, hopefully Sulley Muntari will grab the ball before anyone else!

Still, it didn't take long for another gift to come Pompey's way as Marcus Hahnemann fumbled a cross and Sol Campbell bundled the ball in. There was delayed celebrations from the away end as it took a while to realise we had actually scored! (Deja Vu there as the same thing happened when Birmingham's keeper gifted us the lead!)

Because Bobby Convey had to be sacrificed for Andre Bikey, most of our attacks came down the right as Glen Johnson and John Utaka had extra space. However, we were content with passing the ball and keeping possession for the rest of the half, trying to create opportunities when space arrived.

Some Pompey fans were getting agitated as we weren't making the most of our possession and they claimed that we should have attacked more. I disagreed with them as we were making an already tired 10-man Reading side chase the ball whilst saving our own energy (a point Redknapp made in his post-match interview.)

Reading started the second half brighter but the game soon drifted back into the pattern it followed in the first half, with Pompey having long spells of possession and looking to pick their spot.

Pompey then effectively killed the game off midway through the second half as Nicky Shorey chased Glen Johnson's chipped ball on the right but was completely done for pace by John Utaka who then finished the move by rounding Hahnemann and slotting in the second.

The game then began to peter out as Pompey comfortably defended their lead, so the fans spent the rest of the afternoon goading the "rather overweight" topless Reading fan. The atmosphere from both sets of supporters was generally quiet (must be the hangovers) but there was still some humourous banter to enjoy.

All-in-all this was one of our easier wins of the season against a side that tried hard but couldn't cope with the one man disadvantage. However, I'll be the first to admit that the red card changed everything and that the ref was more than kind to us on occasion.

In the end, Harry masterminded the perfect plan to play against ten men and in reality we should have scored more than two in what was a very comfortable day for Pompey fans.

Now our attention needs to turn to arguably more important issues - the FA Cup and the transfer window. A trip to Ipswich won't be easy as we look to win some major silverware whilst the need for more players has been discussed plenty of times.

2008 has started off very well, let's hope it continues in the same way!

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 6 - Largely untroubled apart from one scrambling save.

Glen Johnson: 9 - Outstanding return to the first team. Some great runs and crosses to add to his excellent defensive display.

Sol Campbell: 8 - Marshalled the defence well and grabbed himself a scrappy goal.

Sylvain Distin: 8 - His usual self.

Hermann Hreidarsson: 7 - Solid and made some good challenges.

Richard Hughes: 7 - Tidy display but rarely passed the ball forward.

Papa Bouba Diop: 7 - Strong display was central to the gameplan but was guilty of missing a close range header.

Sulley Muntari: 8 - Strength on the ball stopped Reading taking it from him. Rarely misplaced a pass too.

John Utaka: 7 - Good goal capped his best display in ages, but there's still more to come.

Niko Kranjcar: 6 - Average showing and he missed a penalty too.

Benjani: 7 - Gave Reading's defence the runaround.


Asmir Begovic

Lauren: N/A - Late sub for the injured Hughes.

Matthew Taylor: N/A - Even later sub.

David Nugent

Kanu: 6 - Did his job well.