Unlucky Pompey come unstuck against the Toffees
By Colin Farmery at Fratton Park
Saturday 26 Sep 2009 15:40:00
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There was a grim inevitablity about the outcome of this game. Don't get me wrong. Pompey played well. Very well in patches, but the truth is that yet again they were found wanting where it mattered in front of goal.

Pompey had the better of Everton in chances created and the defence, with Tal Ben Haim switched to left back and Marc Wilson in the centre, looked far more solid.

Unfortunately, the one slip it made as Younes Kaboul juist missed a header to clear a diagnoal ball and L:uis Saha was on to it like a flsah and whipped a shot into the top corner of the net.

That came three minutes before the break and was a poor reward for a half they had largedly bossed. New striker Aruna Dindane had two presentable chances, but scuffed ione wide and saw a second one-on-one with Tim Howard thwarted by a good save.

Shortly afterwards came Saha's goal. To be fair David James had kept his side level earlier with an instinctive save with his feet as Marouane Fellaini met a cross unchallenged six yards out.

Paul Hart's reshaped side looked far better balanced and Kevin Prince-Boateng was the most impressive player on display in the first half, his ability to pick out a clever pass or drift past opponents at the heart of all Pompey did well.

Suggestions of protests against owner and chairman Sulaiman Al Fahim were unfounded and instead, fans seems to have heeded his call to get behind the side. Article continues here


The match continued in similar vein at the start of the second half, with Everton now more content to let Pompey have possession and try to break them down, while using the mobility of Tim Cahill and Fellaini to hit Pompey on the break.

The action generally was flowing towards Howard's goal and Ben Haim will be wondering how he didn't bury an unmarked header from six yards, which bounced of the keeper's chest.

Not that Everton were without threat. James tipped over a Fellaini header and Toimmy Smith hoofed a Cahill effort off the line.

As the clock wound down, Everton were increasingly conservative and Pompey stepped up the pressure. Boateng was claiming a penalty as he tangled with a defender and then Aaron Mokoena saw a close-range header come back off the cross bar.

The crowd continued to give the side its full-blooded commitment and Pompey were denied a goal by Leighton Baines' timely clearance in the six yard box.

In five minutes of stoppage time Boateng extended Howard into another difficult save, but at the final whistle the crowd rose to acknowledge Pompey's efforts.

In a nice touch, Sylvain Distin, who had been roundly booed as he tocuhed the ball after his controversial transfer last month, came over to the north side and made his peace with most of the fans.

His appearance - possibly his last at Fratton Park - was a reminder of what Pompey once had and so quickly have lost, nbut this is no time to look back.

This was the best performance of the season and deserved better. The table doesn't lie, but it is deceptive at the moment. By the end of October we will have a better idea whether this team really is on course to be one of the worst in Premier League history.

Pompey: James; Vanden Borre, Kaboul, Wilson, Ben Haim; Brown (Kanu 81), Mokoena (Yebda 73), Boateng, O’Hara; Dindane, Smith (Webber 89)

Everton: Howard; Heitinga, Yobo, Distin, Baines; Osman (Hibbert 74), Cahill, Rodwell, Fellaini, Pienaar (Bilyaletdinov 60); Saha (Jo 90)

Referee: Alan Wiley

Attendance: 18,116

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