Pompey Late Show Stuns Tigers
By Jim Bonner
Updated Sunday, 21st March 2010
Portsmouth 3 Hull City 2If people thought that Avram Grant would carry out his threat of not taking the Premier League seriously then they thought wrong following yesterday's stunning late comeback against Hull.
And if they thought that this game was completely meaningless then the atmosphere at Fratton Park and the reaction to Kanu's late winner then again, they'd have been proved wrong.
Avram Grant picked his strongest available side despite having to play Mullins at right back, Mokoena in midfield and forgotten man Tommy Smith up front. This meant that the side had a diluted look to it and it showed as Hull started off the better of the two sides.
Jan Venegoor of Hesselink hit the post with a header before the Tigers took the lead with a somewhat jammy goal. Craig Fagan's shot took a couple of deflections before going in off Caleb Folan and through the surprised David James' legs.
The Pompey players didn't let their heads drop, kept plugging away and eventually grabbed an equaliser after a combination of Hermann Hreidarsson and Tommy Smith bundled in the ball at the far post from O'Hara's cross.
The goal was given to Smith who netted his first Pompey goal since his summer move from Watford.
The rest of the first half lulled as the home fans turned to taunting Iain "ugly Scummer" Dowie until half-time. For a supposedly meaningless game, the Pompey crowd did a good job of creating an atmosphere at Fratton Park.
The second half was much like the first - plenty of vigour but not a great deal of quality. It seemed like the game would peter out into a draw until some poor defending sparked the game into life.
There was an element of fortune about Hull's second goal too as the ball came off referee Phil Dowd and went to Garcia who passed through for Folan. He rounded the stranded James and produced the neat finish to score his second goal of the game that was set to give Dowie his debut win.
That was until the 88th minute, however.
Danny Webber had come close just before but when Jamie O'Hara stepped up to take the free kick I said to the bloke standing next to me that "we haven't had a good set-piece taker since Merson, this is going straight over the bar."
Not for the first time this season, I was made to eat a delicious slice of humble pie as O'Hara beautifully curled the ball into the top corner of the net after playing a quick one-two with Marc Wilson.
But the joy didn't end there as a minute later Richard Garcia was robbed by Nadir Belhadj who ran the ball down the left wing and squared for Kanu who poked in the winner to send Fratton Park crazy! I hadn't seen such a celebration in a Premier League game at Fratton Park for quite some time!
Obviously the result doesn't matter in terms of league position (although we've beaten Derby's record low tally of 11 points) but this victory was all about pride and not losing to a team who may well be worse than us.
With a difficult run of fixtures coming before the trip to Wembley, it was vital to win this game to find some sort of form. More importantly I'm proud of the players for putting up a fight and refusing to surrender despite the inevitable relegation.
Unless we can win our last eight games of the season!
Pompey Player Ratings
David James: 6 - Could do nothing about either goal.
Hayden Mullins: 6 - Did OK at right back.
Hermann Hreidarsson: 7 - Strong showing.
Ricardo Rocha: 6 - Still not convinced.
Nadir Belhadj: 6 - Poor deliveries but got it right when it mattered.
Marc Wilson: 7 - Impressive again.
Aaron Mokoena: 5 - Didn't do much.
Jamie O'Hara: 8 - Superb free kick and hardly misplaced a pass.
Quincy Owusu-Abeyie: 5 - All running but no end product.
Tommy Smith: 7 - Goalscoring return to the side.
Frederic Piquionne: 5 - Not really in the game.
Papa Bouba Diop
Angelos Basinas (Rocha 85): N/A - Last throw of the dice - it worked!
Kanu (Mokoena 57): 7 - Showed his quality and poached late winner.
Danny Webber (Owusu-Abeyie 82): N/A - Late change to push for an equaliser, but we got more than that!