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Harry’s Game


John
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Portsmouth gained their first win at Villa Park yesterday since 1970, this was their sixth consecutive away win and it is brought our second successive home defeat.

I hope this is not going to herald the coming of the sort of bad run of results that we had last year that effectively killed our season. Defeat at home against the top 4 is currently acceptable but against Portsmouth in a 6-pointer it is not. Yes, their opener had luck written all over it and their second was a goal out of the blue that came totally against the run of play but you don’t concede three goals at home and expect to get something out of a game and teams who are looking to get into Europe do not undo great away wins with poor home defeats. But, perhaps we need to consider that Harry is a year further into the re-building process than Martin is and that this year we may have to expect the odd day like this (particularly when David James remains so determined to show us that we were wrong to let him go)?

My player ratings from a great game that we might have won easily if it had been played a couple of weeks later when the African Nations Cup was on and they would have been without the likes of Mutari are:

Scott Carson - 6 – A good stop on 93 minutes, would have been unhappy with his clearance that led to their opener but he was solid enough on the few occasions he was called into action and could not be held responsible for any of the three that went past him.

Olof Mellberg – 6 – A steady defensive display and hit a decent long range effort that scuttled along the ground and almost crept in on 88 minutes.

Zat Knight – 5 – Left for dead in the build up to their third, had an otherwise quiet afternoon.

Martin Laursen – 5 – Needed to be tighter on Mutari for his second and really should have scored in the first half with one good and a later great opportunity. Found himself unchallenged from a Young corner on 17 minutes but his weak header was saved with no difficulty by James. Two minutes later, Young again found him unchallenged, this time from a free-kick but he missed the header and the ball glanced harmlessly wide off his shoulder, this was the opportunity we had been waiting for and an equaliser then with us in the ascendancy would have been likely to have changed the course of this game. OK Martin got himself in the positions to get to Young’s good dead balls but there is little point when there is no end product.

Wilfred Bouma – 6 – A reasonably solid performance, other than when his sliced attempt at a clearance went into Benjani’s path in the lead up to their opener. Hit a good effort on the stroke of half time that forced a decent stop from James. Replaced by Berger on 53 minutes when we needed to throw everything at them, but I wonder why Wilf is always the one to make way for a substitute?

Craig Gardner – 5 – Made little real impression on the game other than on 8 minutes when he got to the ball before Benjani but only to push the ball past Carson himself.

Nigel Reo Coker – 6 – Turned into Mutari when collecting Carson’s clearance and almost got back to intercept on the edge of the box before Mutari pulled the trigger on the hour to end this game as a contest. But, he battled well on his return to our midfield.

Gareth Barry – 6 – Stepped up with great confidence to beat James who went one way as the ball nestled into the other side of the net on 71 minutes.

Ashley Young – 7 – Johnson did better than most against him and it was therefore his dead ball delivery rather than his runs that posed the bigger threat to Harry’s defence. But, it was he that was brought down for our penalty by Distin.

John Carew – 6 – Again performed well as a target man holding the ball up well but handled pretty well by Campbell inside of the box.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 7 –MOTM - Our biggest threat. His pace proved a problem for them throughout. Gabby was unlucky to see a shot that had been deflected by Campbell kept out by James outstretched leg on 25 minutes and then forced a good stop from James 20 minutes later. Hit the woodwork with a header on 90 minutes after Marlon had done well to win the ball and hit a cross into him.

Substitutes:

Patrik Berger - 5 - Replaced Bouma on 53 minutes but failed to produce the impact Martin was looking for and has not looked as likely to this season when coming off the bench as he did last season when doing the same. Shaun looks more likely to be the one to inflict damage on tired defenders for me.

Marlon Harewood – 6 – Replaced Gardner on 70 minutes and looked pretty good in the time that was available to him. Hit a firm shot on 74 minutes that James did well to hold.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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I wonder why Wilf is always the one to make way for a substitute?

It allows Barry to drop back to LB as he offers much more when attacking than Bouma.

We needed to go all out attack and that's what we did, bringing on an attacking midfielder to replace a defender.

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REo-Coker MOTM

By far our best player yesterday.

did their 2nd goal pass you by mate? :?

IMHO, Gabby by a country mile.

NRC did OK sin spells, partuclarly near the end when we pushed forward and he was "holding forte", but for much of the game i thought he was average

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Reo-Coker was our worst player! Held the ball too long and did nothing on their side of the pitch. He was only visible when chasing the ball, always a couple of meters behind it or out of position.

IMO Pompey won the game because they were given too much space in the area between our midfield and defense. Barry and Gardner has no pace, and when Reo-Coker don’t function properly, then it’s easy to play through our midfield. It’s pass it and run, and Mr. “tunnel” Knight is your next problem.

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