Stalemate At Villa Park

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 19 October 2008
Pompey earned a point at Villa Park yesterday but unfortunately the main talking point will be the coin throwing incident near the end of the game.

Assitant referee Phil Sharp was struck by a coin thrown by a Villa fan which was almost certainlt aimed at Harry Redknapp given the abuse he received from the home contingent again at Villa Park.

The incident marred what I thought was a fairly good goalless draw between two evenly matched sides, spoiled by a referee who blew his whistle far too often.

I was slightly worried that Villa might open us up with their wingers but the defence have to be commended for a very strong performance overall, especially Sol Campbell who was a rock once again.

We had the best chance of the game when Armand Traore's shot hit the post and the ball wasn't cleared only for Jermain Defoe to volley it over from close range. It wasn't the easiest of chances but you'd expect a player of his quality to have put the ball in the net.

Curtis Davies lashed the ball over David James' net from close range earlier in the first half but I felt there was nothing to choose between either side at half-time.

Villa were better in the second half but the Pompey defence refused to buckle under the pressure and the only time I felt worried we might concede was right at the end when John Carew's looping header hit the crossbar.

Pompey won the midfield battle despite losing Davis to a slightly harsh second yellow card. Papa Bouba Diop was the physical presence we needed whilst Glen Little and Armand Traore both got involved too.

My only major criticism of our play yesterday was the tendency to lump the ball up to Crouch who won his fair share of headers but Laursen and Davies were never going to lose out to Defoe and the little man was starved of the ball for much of the game, meaning we didn't create too much up front.

It's a good point for us though and we'll be the happier of the two sets of fans with the result. It's a fair way for Harry Redknapp to mark his 25th year in management, which during that time Martin O'Neill is yet to get the better of him.

However, as I mentioned before, everyone will be talking about the coin throwing incident. Like many other Pompey fans, I don't understand why Villa fans seem to have this chip on their shoulder regarding Redknapp but even so, he doesn't deserve to have projectiles launched at him.

The result of that attack could have been so much worse if it had hit an eye and it is good to see Redknapp, O'Neill and both sets of fans condemning the act and hopefully it won't be long before the authorities find the culprit and ban him for life.

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 6 - Not much to do but may have got away with taking out Agbonlahor in the box.

Glen Johnson: 6 - Solid showing.

Sol Campbell: 8 - Rarely beaten to the ball all game.

Sylvain Distin: 8 - Equally as good as Campbell.

Noe Pamarot: 7 - Strong and dependable.

Glen Little: 7 - Got some decent crosses in.

Sean Davis: 6 - Combative and was perhaps unfortunate to be dismissed.

Papa Bouba Diop: 7 - Stood up to the Villa midfield and won the battle.

Armand Traore: 6 - Unlucky to hit the post but got caught out too many times.

Jermain Defoe: 5 - Missed a great chance and didn't do much else.

Peter Crouch: 6 - Worked hard but couldn't do anything with the long balls.

Substitutes

Jamie Ashdown

Hermann Hreidarsson

Nadir Belhadj (Traore 78): N/A - Looked good when he came on, but too late to give a rating.

Jerome Thomas

Arnold Mvuemba (Defoe 82): N/A - Tactical sub after Davis' dismissal.

John Utaka (Little 71): N/A - Frustrating as usual but with more time may have had an impact.

Kanu

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