Charlton Athletic 1 Portsmouth 1

Last updated : 10 April 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Portsmouth gained a valuable away point in their bid to keep themselves out of the Premiership basement bottom three with a 1-1 draw against the faltering Charlton the The Valley and with fellow strugglers Leeds wining away it was the least reward the South Coast side needed in their survival bid.

Charlton's hopes of European football now look to be a forlorn dream as once again their season begins to disintegrate as it has in the last two years after getting themselves into challenging positions.

The home side took an early lead, but were unable to get that elusive second goal that would have almost certainly won them the game but once against the lack of a quality goalscorer is again costing them dear.

Portsmouth were second best in the opening 45 minutes but the appearance of Eyal Berkovic off the subs bench for the second half changed the match and by the end it was Charlton who were once again hanging on in a home game, their form at The Valley this season having been very disappointing.

Charlton boss Alan Curbishley changed his strikeforce, bringing in Jonatan Johansson and Shaun Bartlett for Carlton Cole and Paolo Di Canio and it seemed to have been an inspired move as the home side took the lead in the eighth minute.

Johansson broke down the right and Jason Euell touched on his cross for Bartlett to score with a stooping close-range header. It was the South African's first goal in an injury-hit season since he got Charlton's winner against Portsmouth at Fratton Park in October.

Apart from a Matthew Taylor free-kick which was saved, Portsmouth showed few attacking aspirations in the first half, but with Berkovic on after the break and pulling the strings in midfield, they grew in confidence and sensed that they could get something from the game and it was no surprise when they equalised on 65 minutes.

The hard-working Taylor got clear on the left and his perfect cross was sidefooted in from close range by Yakubu Ayegbeni.

Charlton sub Di Canio did get the ball in the net late on but was disallowed for offside, what an irony it would have been had it counted as the winner against Harry Redknapp's team as the Pompey boss had salvaged the Italian's career when West Ham manager and the two warmly embraced before the kick-off.

Charlton boss Alan Curbishley said that his side must now win at Liverpool on Easter Monday to keep their European dreams alive as Liverpool would go eight points clear of them if they win.

"We got off to a great start but needed the second goal, it is really frustrating what is happening to us at the moment and we just can't seem to get a result at home." Curbishley blames a crippling injury list - he was without seven first-team players and the departure of his England midfielder Scott Parker to Chelsea.

"Obviously Scott's move was a big loss to us and obviously hit us, but the injuries have also disrupted us and we now lack competition in the team.

"I hope people will understand this, but there are still plenty of clubs who would like to be in our position we are in a healthy position in the Premiership and also healthy at the bank and we will be one of the possibly few clubs who will be able to strengthen the team in the summer with the money from Parker's transfer." Portsmouth manager Redknapp says he has never felt that his team would get relegated and he is still convinced they will stay out of trouble, especially now that other teams have been dragged in to the relegation battle.

"We changed the shape of the team in the second half and I thought in the end we may go on to win it.

"The only way we can play is by passing the ball, but our problem is that although we have been playing well in away games most of this season, we don't score enough games away from home.

"But we have a lot of experienced players in the team. I thought we might have been out of danger by now and it will still be tight, but I am sure we can stay in the Premiership." Charlton's frustration was showing at the end when their supporters booed their team's performance and there is a sense of deja vu at The Valley as a similar pattern is emerging as the last two seasons, when Charlton have won only two of their last ten matches.

Now the Londoners have suffered six defeats in their last nine games and the supporters' frustrations about their team's unlikely hopes of getting to Europe have been accentuated by the fact that their bitter local rivals, Millwall, just a few miles down the road will be playing in Europe next season as a result of reaching the FA Cup final.

Curbishley is convinced that if he can get some of his injured players back his team can still finish in their highest ever Premiership position, while Portsmouth's home form, which has been solid this season, should ensure that they just stay in the Premiership, which would be a fine achievement following last season's promotion.

Man of the Match: Eyal Berkovic - has been suffering from a virus and missed the last couple of Portsmouth's victories made an immediate impact when he came on as a half-time sub and changed the face of the game to bring Portsmouth back into contention and earn a deserved point.