Dindane Rescues Blues
Portsmouth 1 Sunderland 1 Aruna Dindane headed in a stoppage time equaliser to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat that would have certainly put an end to Pompey's hopes of Premier League survival.Emotions ran high as the events in this match helped build a siege mentality within the club that has united the fans with the players and the manager. We have a spirited team and a certain Kevin Friend to thank for that.Let's start from the beginning, shall we?Ricardo Rocha (barely) clipped Darren Bent when he was bearing down on our goal in the penalty box. I personally thought that it was a harsh decision and if Mr. Friend can give that one then why couldn't he give the "foul" at the other end when McCartney "pulled down" Dindane in the area.I can just about accept that he gave the decision but how on earth can the referee give it in the first place when he doesn't even know who committed the supposed foul?Yebda was shown the red card, much to his bemusement and after much debate it took Rocha to own up to Friend that it was him who brought down Bent and so he was given his marching orders. Bent then scored against us for the third time this season and I do believe that he has scored against Pompey more than any other club.Pompey had it all to do as it was effectively ten men against twelve given Friend's apparent reluctance to award Pompey anything other than petty yellow cards, something that didn't go un-noticed by Avram Grant.Craig Gordon was fortunate to save Dindane's effort whilst Bouba Diop came close with a volley. It was great to see that the Pompey fans were fully behind the team and despite having a man less, Pompey didn't play as if they were outnumbered despite the little quality in the team.At the end of a scrappy first half, the Pompey manager endeared himself to the crowd by verbally tearing into the incompetent referee on the pitch. Ultimately, this got him sent to the stands for the second half but he stood there in the gantry, staring at the action in his usual manner.I've heard a fair few Pompey fans say we deserved to win on the balance of play but judging by what I saw in the second half, I'm struggling to agree as Sunderland could have easily had a second goal.Steve Bruce's men were reduced to ten men themselves when Lee Cattermole received a second yellow card for a nasty challenge on Basinas that could easily have been a straight red. Yet despite Pompey's dominance in possession, it was the Mackems who created the better chances.Bent was one-on-one with James and I thought falling further behind was inevitable, but the England stopper did great to close the angle down, make himself look big and push the ball to safety.Hearts were in mouths when Matt Kilgallon's volley hit the crossbar and those same hearts sank when it seemed that Marc Wilson had unfortunately scored his second own goal in two games, only to be relieved to see the flag go up for offside.Kenwyne Jones was also extremely close to reaching Darren Bent's cross which would have resulted in a second goal too. In all honesty it was beginning to look bleak for us as, Piquionne's wayward header excluded, Pompey never looked like scoring all game.That was until David Meyler, not long on as a substitute, elbowed Finnan in the face and received a straight red card. With 6 minutes of stoppage time and Belhadj, Kanu and Webber all on, Pompey bombarded the Sunderland box with long balls.The Sunderland defence coped right until the death when, in the 95th minute, Aruna Dindane headed in Jamie O'Hara's cross at the far post to send Fratton Park mental. Unfortunately there wasn't enough time to grab that all important winner but the players and the manager applauded the fans around the ground in a show of unity.I've never seen Avram Grant so emotional during a game and his post-match comments proved that this club means something to him. You can criticise his tactics after failing to be more positive earlier in the game and not ordering playing with more width, but the bottom line is that most of our players aren't up to Premier League standard and he's doing the best he can with his extremely limited resources available.You can question the quality of our players all you want but you cannot question the spirit and the commitment that these men played with yesterday and that could be worth something in the weeks to come, starting on Saturday against Southampton.I said before the game that we simply had to win this game to stand any chance of Premier League survival but given the circumstances of the result, having gone down to ten men, coped with an awful referee and then to equalise with just a minute to go, will have restored maybe a little bit of belief.The players certainly aren't giving up so I feel we mustn't give up on them. A win against Stoke is definitely a must now, but after the court hearing today attentions will now turn to a certain game on Saturday.The last time we beat Southampton, it virtually confirmed our Premier League safety. The year before, that derby win sparked a run of games that eventually saw Pompey avoid relegation.A win against the Scummers may well have a similar effect this season.Pompey Player RatingsDavid James: 7 - Super save to deny Bent his second goal.Steve Finnan: 6 - Solid but slow, as usual.Tal Ben-Haim: 7 - Defended stoutly, but should have been booked for pulling Jones back. Just one of many decisions our Friend got wrong last night.Marc Wilson: 6 - Still looks a bit shaky.Ricardo Rocha: N/A - Controversial dismissal.Hassan Yebda: 7 - Did a good job at right back.Papa Bouba Diop: 6 - Strong in midfield but some poor passing.Angelos Basinas: 6 - Mixed evening.Jamie O'Hara: 7 - Orchestrated most of Pompey's attacks.Frederic Piquionne: 5 - Not too effective, missed a glorious chance.Aruna Dindane: 8 - Lively, unpredictable and grabbed that vital equaliser.SubstitutesJamie AshdownNadir Belhadj (Yebda 78): N/A - Should have come on earlier, produced some great crosses.Richard HughesQunicy Owusu-AbeyieHayden MullinsKanu (Diop 76): N/A - Added a target man to Pompey's play.Danny Webber (Finnan 90): N/A - Only given 6 minutes.
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