Pompey Triumph Over Sky Blues
By Jim Bonner
Updated Sunday, 4th December 2011
Portsmouth 2 Coventry City 1
Michael Appleton celebrated hi first victory in management after his Portsmouth side recorded a well earned win over Coventry.
There was a minute's applause for Gary Speed prior to the game and that seemed to inspire the Blues as they turned in arguably their best first half performance of the season.
Dave Kitson tested Cov keeper Joe Murphy early on as Pompey played some tidy football but the opener would come due to some terrible defending from the visitors.
Murphy dallied on the ball which allowed the tenacious Joel Ward to steal the ball from him in the box. The keeper then brought him down whilst trying to get the ball back and after what seemed like an eternity, referee Carl Boyeson awarded the penalty.
Greg Halford calmly struck the ball down the centre of the goal to give Pompey the lead. In truth, it wasn't a great penalty and Halford may feel a little fortunate to have scored.
Pompey played some more quality football and should have doubled the lead when Kitson poked the ball wide following a nice move involving Hayden Mullins and Erik Huseklepp.
The second half performance started much like the majority of Pompey's first half showings - poorly. Stephen Henderson was thanked for tipping Lucas Jutkiewicz's long range shot over the bar.
But Coventry grew into the game and were getting plenty of joy down our right side with Ward pushing forward so often. This allowed Richard Wood to run down the wing and fizz the ball across the pitch for Jutkiewicz to get on the end of it for the equaliser.
Thankfully that goal didn't see the Pompey players' head drop and they regained the lead just four minutes later thanks to some quick thinking.
George Thorne took a free kick quickly and passed the ball to Ward who lashed the ball into the bottom far corner of the net. There might have been a hint of offside to that goal but it was good officiating from the referee.
Pompey continued to push for a third goal with Huseklepp sent through on goal only to be denied by a late challenge from Martin Cranie. David Norris then inexplicably scuffed an effort wide from all of two yards, which will surely go down as Pompey's miss of the season.
He may have been made to rue that woeful miss but Henderson came to Pompey's rescue twice, diving with his feet to save Gary McSheffrey's shot and then producing a brilliant reflex save to keep out Carl Baker's drive.
Luke Varney, on as a substitute late on, could have eased nerves when he was through on goal but his shot was saved by the head of Murphy. Pompey did hold on for the win and a valuable three points following a good performance.
There can't be too many complaints about the performance. The 4-5-1 formation worked with the players keeping the ball and playing some nice passing football. Kitson may not have scored but his hold up play which brought others into the game was excellent.
People will say "it was only Coventry" and they would have a point as the Sky Blues were probably the worst team to have come to Fratton Park so far this season and I'm certain they'll be relegated.
This was encouraging given the problems off the pitch may be a long-term major worry but at least this win will ease our fears over matters on the field for the time being.
Let's hope for the same outcome when our friends down the road pay us a visit in a fortnight's time.
Pompey Player Ratings
Stephen Henderson: 7 - Some excellent saves but his kicking needs to improve as his punts upfield were far too long.
Greg Halford: 7 - Left exposed at times but did well overall.
Ricardo Rocha: 6 - Solid enough.
Jason Pearce: 7 - Some great blocks.
Joe Mattock: 6 - Steady showing.
George Thorne: 7 - Did his job well.
Hayden Mullins: 7 - Average showing.
Joel Ward: 7 - Tenacity and quick thinking got us two goals, but left Halford exposed much too often.
David Norris: 6 - Did OK but missed a sitter.
Erik Huseklepp: 6 - Some nice passing but never a major threat.
Dave Kitson: 7 - Showed some good touches and often brought others into play.
Luke Varney (Mullins 68): N/A - Should have scored late on.
Benjani (Huseklepp 89): N/A - Late change to eat some time.
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