Local Lad Ward Salvages Point Against Saints
Portsmouth 1 Southampton 1
Joel Ward scored in the 84th minute of the south coast derby to rescue a draw for Pompey in what was, in truth, a poor game of football.
The quality of the match could not match the intensity of the atmosphere produced by the Pompey fans at Fratton Park as the home side resorted to far too many long balls whilst Southampton had more possession and more chances.
The visitors settled quicker from the first whistle and won a couple of early corners but never really threatened Stephen Henderson. Jason Pearce stood out in the Pompey defence, blocking crosses and making a couple of superb challenges.
Pompey's best chance of the half came when David Norris fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box and Greg Halford also sent a free kick wide on the stroke of half-time.
Usually you would expect Pompey to come flying out of the traps after the break as we have a habit of upping our game in the second half of matches this season but it didn't happen today.
Instead, our rivals continued to play the better football and create the better chances with Rickie Lambert almost getting on the end of Guly Do Prado's cross whilst Adam Lallana volleyed wide.
Michael Appleton's men struggled to respond and create any chances as the game continued in a scrappy fashion, though Dave Kitson wasted a great opportunity to find someone in the box when he had space, only to have the ball stolen by a man in red and white.
A frustrating game took a turn for the worse when Southampton won a soft free kick. Danny Fox put the ball in the box and Lambert headed past Henderson to give Saints the lead.
It probably should have got worse for us, too as the Pompey keeper did well to save Guly's effort as Southampton looked to score on the counter-attack.
Hope was dwindling fast as Pompey hadn't created a single chance in the second half and the introductions of Erik Huseklepp and Marko Futacs did nothing to inspire the Blues into action.
However, a long ball from Henderson caused our rivals to concede a cheap corner. Norris' delivery was then flicked on by George Thorne and Ward was there to beat Guly to the ball and head in the equaliser to send Fratton Park absoultely ballistic!
That was the last chance of what was a drab game for the purists, and one which the vast majority of Pompey fans were happy to take a draw from having arguably seen their team's worst home performance of the season.
I think both sets of supporters would have walked away from Fratton Park happy. Saints fans will take comfort from the fact they didn't lose at our gaff and are still top of the league whilst we'll be happy because we salvaged an unlikely draw having created little in the game.
Why Liam Lawrence started ahead of Erik Huseklepp is baffling. The Irish international is a shadow of his former self and offered little in a game where we really needed him to perform.
Dave Kitson did well when it came to retaining possession and helping out the defence, it's just a shame the midfield had no cohesion to it and so had to resort to aimless long balls that went straight to men in red and white shirts.
As for the atmosphere, it was great to hear Fratton Park so loud again. I haven't heard noise like that since we took on AC Milan and I hope this experience will encourage the "part time" fans to come along more often.
Having said that, I was disappoited with Southampton's fans. For their numbers, they didn't really impose their voices on the game and were drowned out, even when they took the lead. And what was that camp waving all about? It was like they were at a Westlife concert or something and they were rightfully ridiculed by the Pompey fans.
It is also good to hear that there has only been one arrest (so far) relating to this game as one Southampton fan was arrested for attempting to bring a firework into the ground. There may be a few more arrests yet after a flare went off in the Milton End during the match.
At least we didn't lose and extended the unbeaten run. We face another tough game at Millwall on Boxing Day so hopefully we can all have a Merry Christmas before what looks to be a tough 2012.
Pompey Player Ratings
Stephen Henderson: 6 - Good save from Guly but distribution was poor.
Greg Halford: 6 - Mixed showing, should have got forward more often.
Jason Pearce: 8 - Got in the way of everything.
Ricardo Rocha: 5 - Struggled at times.
Joe Mattock: 6 - Still yet to see the best of him.
George Thorne: 6 - Produced some meaty challenges.
Hayden Mullins: 5 - Not his best performance.
Liam Lawrence: 5 - Looks finished.
David Norris: 6 - A couple of "nearly" moments.
Joel Ward: 8 - Brave header for the equaliser and gave his all.
Dave Kitson: 7 - Worked extremely hard.
Erik Huseklepp (Lawrence 65): 5 - Barely saw the ball.
Marko Futacs (Mullins 78): N/A - Thrown on late as a desperate measure.
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