Portsmouth 1 Southampton 1: El Clasicoast ends all square
Southampton’s trip to Fratton Park was one of the most eagerly-awaited contests of the Championship season so far. So how did both sides fare in El Clasicoast? Perhaps you were watching Sky’s three-game Super Sunday Premier League extravaganza? Maybe you’re a Portsmouth or Southampton fan interested in a neutral perspective on the clash? Either way, here’s how it went as Saints aimed to go three points clear of West Ham at the top of the table with a victory over their bitter rivals.
1: If we weren’t already confident of what to expect, we got a good idea inside the first ten seconds when Saints kicked off, the ball was played to right-back Frazer Richardson and Portsmouth striker Dave Kitson immediately charged the ball down. A statement of intent from the home side and a signal of what was to come – boundless energy and committed challenges.
6: Another statement from Pompey – Stephen Henderson came a long way to claim a high cross and did so with supreme confidence. With Rickie Lambert so often dominant in the air and having scored a header from close range in the final minutes of Southampton’s previous game, the 2-2 draw with Blackpool, Portsmouth’s back four will have been relieved to see their goalkeeper looking so assured early on. Would it last?
13: David Norris made a good break through the middle for Portsmouth and played in Joel Ward on the right. Ward turned Danny Fox but Jos Hooiveld came across to make the interception. Pompey looked toothless up front and perhaps their most potent threat would come through the driving runs of Norris or Ward getting the better of his marker Fox.
14: Two good examples of Portsmouth countering the Saints threat well – first Lambert was challenged in the air and then two defenders were quick to close Adam Lallana down. This was how the hosts would approach the first half, getting men tight to Lallana and Lambert and forcing Southampton to turn to the likes of Guly do Prado to make the difference.
22: Halfway through the first half, Ward again got the better of Fox but this time in the air. Unfortunately for Pompey, there was no power on his header and Kelvin Davis, returning from injury after Bartosz Bialkowski’s costly error last weekend, was able to make a comfortable save.
26: Lambert’s reduced threat was summarised by his best effort of the half, a fairly innocuous long-range free kick that was easily gathered in by Henderson.
32: A rare bit of quality. Lallana received the ball on the touchline and danced down the left hand side, evading two or three wild Portsmouth challenges in the process. Emerging with the ball against all the odds, it was a showcase of the youngster’s talent in a game of few special moments.
43: The ball just wouldn’t quite bounce for Liam Lawrence. At first it appeared that Lawrence would be through on goal but back spin took the opportunity away and although he managed to retain possession and feed Norris, the midfielder’s shot was dragged wide of the Saints goal.
45: In first half injury time, Greg Halford’s free kick went inches wide of the near post but Davis looked to have it covered in any case.
50: Five minutes into the second half, Portsmouth’s Jason Pearce wrestled Morgan Schneiderlin to the ground on the halfway line. Again there was little doubt that Pompey were prepared to get physical in order to get the better of their fierce rivals.
52: Schneiderlin nearly got sweet revenge for that foul when he extremely close to getting a toe to Lallana’s shot ahead of Henderson’s sprawl. It was probably the closest Saints had come to a goal at this stage in the game and offered a glimpse of their ability to open up defences.
59: Dave Kitson’s fall from grace is a bit of a puzzle. In time gone by, the former Reading man appeared a passable Premier League striker and certainly a threat at Championship level. Nowadays, that threat seems to have gone. Kitson had already wasted a good opportunity to make something happen for Pompey a few minutes prior to an even better chance, which was also wasted. Portsmouth had Benjani, Marko Futacs and Erik Huseklepp on the bench, so would Kitson be withdrawn or would his fortunes take a turn for the better?
63: GOAL – Southampton had already threatened a few minutes prior to this when Lallana ghosted in at the far post but was unable to turn a deep free kick on target. With just over an hour gone, a set piece from a very similar position was aimed closer to goal and Lambert leapt above Pearce to plant a firm header past Henderson for his 17th goal of the season. That sixth-minute claim should surely have been replicated?
65: Huseklepp on for Lawrence as Portsmouth aimed to find a way back into the game.
75: Lambert showing that he is more than just a physical presence. A brilliant cross-field through ball plays in Lallana but no shot is forthcoming. In truth, Saints looked more likely to add to their lead than Pompey looked like grabbing an equaliser with fifteen minutes remaining.
77: First Southampton change – Dan Harding replaces Danny Fox at left-back, the same substitution Nigel Adkins made after 63 minutes last weekend.
78: A long-awaited second Pompey substitution. The giant Hungarian striker Futacs replaced Hayden Mullins in a necessary attacking switch as the home side chased the game.
80: Southampton continued to press. Another long cross failed to reach Lambert at the back post but when the ball stayed in the danger area, do Prado’s angled drive went just wide of Henderson’s goal.
82: Excellent hold-up play from Lambert eventually resulted in a chance for do Prado. Henderson came off his line quickly to make the block and a shot soon after by Dean Hammond went wide at the near post. Saints were getting progressively better as the game went on. And then, of course…
84: GOAL: Despite Saints pressure, an equaliser against the run of play. A deep corner by Norris was won well in the air by Halford and the second ball was headed in by Ward. Do Prado on the post could certainly have done more. Could either side now go and win it in the closing minutes?
90: The game ticked into injury time. A flashback to Simeon Jackson’s winner for Norwich towards the end of last season, scored at the very same end Saints were attacking in the second half here – the goal that clinched a second successive promotion for the Canaries, a feat which Southampton are aiming to replicate in four months. Three minutes of added time were signalled.
92: A half-chance for Lambert. His volley is fired just wide at the near post with Saints pressing for a very late winner.
FULL TIME: Portsmouth 1 Southampton 1 – An even first half, a second half which Southampton dominated for long periods but ultimately a drawn match between two bitter rivals. More evidence that Portsmouth have made recent progress under Michael Appleton and a valuable point for Nigel Adkins as his Saints side chase promotion, but it could and probably should have been more. Southampton end the weekend a point clear at the top of the Championship.