Leeds 3 Pompey 3: Old boy's OG seals a famous comeback
By Site reporter
Tuesday 28 Dec 2010 16:59:00
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Andy O’Brien didn’t score too many goals for Pompey when he was at Fratton Park but he got two here at the wrong end – one of which could justifiably be claimed by Richard Hughes - to help the brilliant Blues to a point as they twice came back from two goals down to stun Leeds. There were shades of Corporal Punishment in 1989 (well, almost) as Steve Cotterill’s battlers silenced the Elland Road faithful.

Max Gradel and Jonathan Howson put Leeds two up with goals in the first ten minutes but Pompey gradually found their rhythm and David Nugent fired a rasping shot past Kasper Schmeichel. Brad Johnson restored the two-goal lead just after the hour before Andy O’Brien deflected in Hughes’ shot. It looked like that was that until O’Brien pinged Nadir Ciftci’s cross past Schmeichel.


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The jubilation being displayed by the 1,000 or so Pompey fans in one corner of Elland Road had not seemed likely, nor even possible, when Leeds made a storming start and went two in front before Pompey had found their groove.

It was a changed Pompey side who took the side and found themselves under the cosh early on. Greg Halford returned from a one-match ban to start at right-back, and Carl Dickinson and Hughes also started.

Hermann Hreidarsson, Michael Brown and Liam Lawrence were the players to miss out.

John Utaka did test Schmeichel with an early run and shot but Leeds quickly took a grip on the game.

Gradel opened the scoring with a neat finish from close range after a cross from the right found him at the far post with the defence not picking him up. Two minutes later, Howson picked up a pass from Ross McCormack, beat Dickinson and Aaron Mokoena and curled the ball home.

Pompey’s fans must have been fearing a hammering but at the same time they knew their side had done well after slow starts at Swansea and Norwich – and the same trend was seen here.

Robert Snodgrass and Billy Paynter were both close to a third goal but Pompey started to get hold of the ball and push their hosts back.

Dave Kitson was unfortunate with an overhead kick and then, minutes later, a header which was cleared off the line. But on 33 minutes, Pompey were back in it when Hughes, having an effective game on a rare start for him, played him through to rifle a fierce drive past Schmeichel and into the top corner.

Ian Snodgrass sent a shot narrowly wide before the break, but Pompey headed for half-time knowing it was anyone’s game.

Leeds started well after the break and Jamie Ashdown made an excellent stop to keep out a low drive from Snodgrass.

Kanu replaced Joel Ward, who looked like he’d taken a knock to the leg, just before the hour but before they’d had a chance to take advantage of the attacking move, it was 3-1.

A corner was not properly cleared and Johnson lashed a shot through a crowd of players and beyond Ashdown.

If Leeds fans thought they could relax, they were soon proved wrong when Hughes saw his shot deflected past Schmeichel by O’Brien after a neat set-up by Kanu. Officials marked it down as an own goal but after an eight-year wait for a league goal for the Blues, you can expect Hughes to tell anyone who cares to listen that it’s his strike.

McCormack had the ball in the net on 67 minutes but it was disallowed - the hosts did not understand why.

Referee David Webb brought further abuse from the home fans upon himself when he waved play on as McCormack went down under a challenge from sub Ibrahima Sonko.

Mokoena thwarted McCormack on one occasion, while Utaka failed to get enough power on a 25-yarder at the other end and Schmeichel held it.

Hughes, who had obviously been told to get forward more than usual by Cotterill, almost levelled but his shot was saved at close range. But that was an unheeded warning to the home team and for the second game in a row they were to let a two-goal lead slip.

Pompey sent their travelling fans wild two minutes in stoppage time when Ciftci, who had only replaced Utaka four minutes earlier, got away down the right for a run and cross that O’Brien put into the net after Schmeichel failed to hold it.

This was another tremendous, spirited showing on the road by Pompey, who in the past five weeks have taken seven points out of nine from trips to top-six teams Swansea, Norwich and now Leeds.

The point, their second this festive season, means there is little change in their position in the congested mid-Championship table, but what heart the Blues and their fans can take from being 2-0 and 3-1 down at a cauldron like Leeds and still coming away with a point.

It was a fine way to end a wretched year for the club. Can supporters dare to hope 2011 may bring more results like this?

Pompey: Ashdown; Halford, Mokoena (c), Rocha (Sonko 61), Dickinson; Ward (Kanu 59), Hughes, Mullins; Nugent, Kitson, Utaka (Ciftci 88). Subs not used: Flahavan, Hreidarsson.

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