Taylor Made

Last updated : 15 April 2007 By Jim Bonner
Although the 2-1 scoreline suggested a close game between Pompey and the Magpies, it really wasn't that way as we dominated large period of an entertaining game marred by an inept referee.

Newcastle came out of the traps immediately as Martins fired a stinger at David James and then Craig Moore put the resulting corner wide when he looked odds on to score. I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking that we were going to suffer a Watford hangover after that early scare.

But what followed was a total blitz on the Newcastle goal and it began after Benjani neatly turned and outfought Moore to fire in an opener before the 10 minute mark and give us a platform to build on as the shots began to rain in on Steve Harper.

Kanu struck a fierce shot that hit the crossbar and bounced on the line for Newcastle to clear it. Most of our players had at least one attempt at goal and Moore ended up being subbed for Onyewu because Benjani was just tearing him apart with ease.

The only other chance Newcastle had was a shot from Martins that was well cleared off the line by Lauren who was excellent throughout the match alongside the restored Sol Campbell and Linvoy who hadn't had much to do in the first half.

Despite the brilliance of our build up play from Benji, Kanu, Taylor and O'Neil we could not finish off the Geordies in the first half and knowing that we don't hold on to 1-0 leads, I was feeling slightly edgy as there was no way our opposition were going to be that terrible after the break.

As expected, Newcastle started like a house on fire and Obafemi Martins was intent on showing the home crowd what we missed out on as Jamo had to push his shot onto the crossbar. Roeder's side made the most of everything Chris Foy gave them and put us under some early pressure.

Foy had an awful game when we played Bolton back in December and yesterday he reminded the Pompey fans just how bad he was as he gave Newcastle every petty decision yet they could climb all over Kanu and tug away at Taylor's shirt and get away with it.

Normal service was soon resumed as Matt Taylor continued to contribute to his goal of the season with another long range stunner. I actually missed it initially as Chris Foy had missed yet another blatant foul on one of our players so I directed some abuse at him that soon turned to cheers as I saw the ball fly into the bottom corner of the net!

That goal put us in a comfortable position and we were passing the ball nicely until Dejan Stefanovic gifted Newcastle a slightly dubious penalty with a clumsy challenge on James Milner. Emre converted and left David James frustrated as he has to wait yet another week for his clean sheet record.
Newcastle improved after their goal but there wasn't any prolonged period of pressure as Pompey saw out the rest of the game and recorded their 10th home win of the season.

Like I said, this victory was far more comfortable than the scoreline suggested and Newcastle have thrown themselves in the hat for the "worst team to visit Fratton Park" award this season. That shouldn't take away from our own performance as a lot of our build up play was top class and the defence were once again very good.

There was a reason for me postponing this article (other than a rather naff family do last night!) I awaited the outcome of the FA Cup Semi-Finals and it turns out Manchester United did us a favour by hammering Watford 4-1 yesterday (why couldn't we do that on Monday?) and Chelsea beat Blackburn 2-1 in Extra Time to set up the Cup Final we wanted as 7th place now qualifies for Europe.

Which is just as well because Everton got another jammy stoppage time winner against Charlton which means we're still 5 points adrift of 6th place, with Spurs just behind us in 8th with an inferior goal difference but a game in hand after their 3-3 draw with Wigan today.

So we've still got an outside chance of Europe, until we suffer our nailed on defeat at Villa Park next week!

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 8 - Made a couple of great saves from Martins and had no chance with the penalty.

Lauren: 8 - Supported the attack well and made a vital goal line clearance.

Sol Campbell: 8 - Good to see him back. Imposing display.

Linvoy Primus: 7 - Solid as usual but made one mistake that James had to bail him out on.

Dejan Stefanovic: 6 - Continues to be the weak link in our defence.

Gary O'Neil: 8 - One of his best displays of the season, put in some excellent crosses.

Sean Davis: 6 - Average performance.

Richard Hughes: 7 - Another solid showing at home.

Matthew Taylor: 9 - Top quality goal to cap a top quality display that ranks up there with his best performances of the season.

Benjani: 9 - Best game in a Pompey shirt in my opinion. Decent goal and ran the Newcastle defence ragged.

Kanu: 8 - Excellent build up and hold up play. Unlucky not to score for the second week running.


Jamie Ashdown

Noe Pamarot

Arnold Mvuemba

Niko Kranjcar: N/A - Came on for the injured Kanu in stoppage time.

Lomana LuaLua: 6 - Didn't make an impact.