Portsmouth 0 Middlesbrough 0

Last updated : 30 January 2007 By Footymad Previewer
Sol Campbell enhanced the possibility of an unlikely England recall as Portsmouth and Middlesbrough played out a stalemate at Fratton Park.

Middlesbrough's Jonathan Woodgate, who looks nailed on to be included in Steve McClaren's squad when it is named on Friday, was equally impressive as the match was punctuated by efficient defensive displays.

Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp made three changes from the side that lost at Old Trafford in the FA Cup over the weekend, restoring regular front two Kanu and Benjani Mwaruwari as Pompey searched for their first home league win of 2007.

With a typically attacking look, Redknapp's side took the initiative in a frantic opening few minutes with Lauren sliding the ball through to Kanu who took an uncharacteristic swing from outside the penalty area but the ball dribbled wide.

Stewart Downing was looking his enterprising best when he cut back on to his right foot and struck a sweet cross that left James Morrison stretching at the far post but the teenage winger couldn't connect.

Woodgate was showing all his poise at the back when he threaded a beautiful through ball into Yakubu on 13 minutes.

The Nigerian appeared to have outpaced the Pompey defence, but Campbell imperiously slid across to make a vital interception and deny the former Fratton favourite.

Linvoy Primus then went close minutes later for the home side when Abel Xavier's header failed to find any distance and the centre-back delivered a rare strike at goal but his volley dipped just over the bar.

Just as an opening goal appeared to be on the horizon, the chances then dried up with Middlesbrough and George Boateng in particular gaining more and more possession in midfield and restricting Pompey from playing their usual enterprising game at home.

Benjani had Brad Jones chasing across his goalline with a looping header from a Pedro Mendes set piece but the ball landed a yard wide.

Redknapp's need to find a striker before the transfer window closes in just over 24 hours began to look all the more apparent as Pompey failed to break through a resolute Boro defence.

It took some time for the second half to get going as both teams struggled to match the intensity of the opening period.

Mendes had a trademark long ranger look promising but the Portuguese midfielder's effort failed to find any genuine accuracy to trouble Jones.

The introduction of Rudolphe Douala on 71 minutes injected some much needed pace into the affair and the Cameroon midfielder had an almost instant effect nipping past Xavier and sending a dangerous cross along the face of goal which no Pompey forward could connect with.

Despite Redknapp throwing on the fit-again at Lomana LuaLua and Andrew Cole in order to break the deadlock, it was Middlesbrough who fashioned the best of the late chances.

With five minutes to go, LuaLua lost the ball cheaply in midfield, allowing Boateng to play in Yakubu and the striker stung the hands of David James with a powerful strike.

A poor Primus header gave Boro substitute Malcolm Christie a striking chance which James parried but managed to dive forward to collect the loose ball.

Matthew Taylor then had the crowd on their feet as Xavier misjudged a long ball over the top allowing the wideman a sight of goal and he forced Jones to make a sprawling save.