Portsmouth's poor defence lets in Bolton

20 December 2008 06:53
Tony Adams squirmed and ranted on the touchline as mass absenteeism in his defence again cost him dear. The harsh reality for the once indomitable centre half of Arsenal and England is that this is becoming a habit.

Portsmouth, post-Harry Redknapp, have won only two of their nine Premier League matches and at this erratic rate are in genuine danger of being sucked into the lower reaches of the table.

Bolton are rarely lauded for their flamboyant football yet they terrorised Portsmouth in the opening phase of the match, scoring twice and threatening to humiliate Adams' team.

If nothing else, Adams would be a champion of the plain-talking league. He admitted: "We were absolutely awful in the first 15 minutes. You've got to give them credit, they pressed and fought and we weren't up for the fight. I had a bit of a go at them at half-time and lost my voice. I asked what part of winning the battle you don't understand. We lost too many one-on-one's all over the pitch. They got their reward.

"I'm not worried. I'll battle to the next game. There are areas we want to strengthen in the transfer window. I intend to be honest with my players and if they're awful I'll tell them. I think they were surprised.

"A screaming manager on the sideline helped and I got a response. We were better in the second half. And they're better than that."

Even after Peter Crouch pulled a goal back, Bolton routinely carved their way through Portsmouth's flimsy resistance. Kevin Davies, as he usually does, won just about everything in the air, but this was no mere brute-force-and-ignorance effort by Gary Megson's side.

Ricardo Gardner, who scored Bolton's second goal, was irrepressible in his midfield role and Matt Taylor, who gave them the lead in 50 seconds, was no less effective in his more measured style.

Bolton were encouraged by Portsmouth's unforgivable lack of concentration and one of David James' barmier displays. In this equivalent fixture last year, he was stupendous and would probably have kept out both the goals he conceded on Saturday.

It could have been worse for the England goalkeeper and Portsmouth. His miscue almost yielded a third to Johan Elmander and Bolton managed to squander a raft of chances.

James' carelessness was symptomatic of Portsmouth's play. Jermain Defoe might have equalised before the break and had a couple of further glimpses of goal in the second half, but lacked the conviction of a striker on top of his game.

Too many individual players in Portsmouth shirts are under performing and Adams is aware the buck must stop with him.

Portsmouth's defence crumbled inside a minute. Davies' aerial presence was enough to guide the ball in the direction of Taylor, who outwitted Hermann Hreidarsson and put Bolton in front.

Taylor took over as provider, heading down into the path of the marauding Gardener, to beat James all too easily for Portsmouth's liking.

Crouch brought Portsmouth back into the contest with the perfect header from Niko Kranjcar's glorious cross but ultimately Pompey were grateful to escape a hiding.

Megson said: "We've had loads of chances today. Matt Taylor worked his socks off and England could do worse than look at him."

Adams also insisted he had received no offers from Manchester City for his midfield player Lassana Diarra, who is due to join Real Madrid in January.

Source: Telegraph