Bore draw at Fratton

Last updated : 03 March 2002 By Footymad Previewer
Rix made one change to the team that battled out three points in midweek - in favour Mladen Rudonja coming in for the suspended Kevin Harper. Pompey had quite an attacking team out with Crouch, Prosienecki, Rudonja, Pitt, Quashie and O'Neil forming an attacking midfield - unfortuantely Gary O'Neil once again coasted through the game (carrying an injury, why does Rix persist?) the width and therefore pace of Pitt and Rudonja were never exploited and Prosinecki was always bypassed in favour of the long ball game that Dave Beasant and Dave Waterman are so comfortable with. It looked like a team lacking confidence managed by a manager fearful for his job.

The first half completely lacked chances of any real note, with the game being played in the air rather than on the deck, Pitt had some luck down the left but on the very rare occasion that he made it to the byline, the lone figure of Crouch couldn't get anywhere near the crowded box. Walsall packed the midfield and defence and hit Pompey on the break - with the pace of their strikers they looked as likely, if not more likely, to score than Pompey.

Due to an injury to Scott Hiley, Tom Curtis played the whole of the second half at right back but Rix at first choose to make no more changes to his team - despite the Fratton End chanting the name of 'Leo' (Biagini) over and over again. The midfield were also lacking bite and the once again non-inclusion of Neil Barrett (this time from the bench) was baffling to say the least. However Pompey solidiered on, desperate to find some sort of form but it was Walsall who struck first.

On the hour mark, Pompey failed to properly clear a weak cross and former Birmingham man Martin O'Connor fired home a sweet shot from 20 yards. This stirred Pompey, Rix and fans into action (albeit temporarily) and Rix brought on Leo Biagini and Linvoy Primus for Pitt and Rudonja. A defensive move as Pompey reverted to a 4-4-2 but lost any sort of option of using their pacy, skilful wide players.

Linvoy Primus added steel to the defence and a few minutes later Pompey drew level - a Vincent cross headed home by the prolific Peter Crouch (19 goals so far) but still Pompey couldn't go on from there and most worryingly nor could the crowd - to say that Fratton Park was dead was an understatement.

As the game drew to a close, the impressive Biagini had a couple of chances to make himself a Fratton area when his strong shot hit a Walsall player en route to goal and in the very dying seconds, he was screaming to be put through on goal by Peter Crouch, who promptly sent a half hearted 35 yard lob into the hands of the Walsall keeper.

People not working together at Pompey? Surely not...

Article by Joe Michalczuk at Fratton Park