Writer: J P Fear
Date:Saturday December 8 2007
Attendance: 35 790
Well lets get this out of the way straight away, the referee Mike Riley was awful today.
Is that an excuse? No, not really. Do we need an excuse? Possibly not. Pompey are the highest away scorers this season and also on a 10 unbeaten (sadly now 11!) run. Add to the fact we also gave them a one goal start from a woeful attempt at a clearance by Wilfred Bouma which was then slotted in by Craig Gardner, who was less to blame as if he hadn't converted it the Pompey player would have.
If you listened to some of the fans you'd have thought we were about to get relegated as well, some people really do over react at games! I even had some fool throw a pound coin, I assume towards the ref but the clueless pratt hit me with it instead. You have to ask why some people are allowed to share the same air we breath really!?
Lets face it, this was always going to be tough, when we gifted them an easy opening goal and had our own Martin Laursen miss two guilt edged chances, you just kind of knew this wasn't going to be our day. You just can't miss chances like that and expect to get anything from a team bang in form.
Is this a disaster? No, not really. It wasn't a great performance, maybe some got carried away with the hype that has surrounded us recently, but they weren't that bad, just Pompey were better - especially when it came to taking their chances. At least the Villa didn't at any stage let their heads drop or give up. They did fight to the last.
I must admit there was plenty of huffing and puffing (and sadly some hoofing) with very little end product at times but even then, David James pulled off some outstanding saves - why oh why we ever let him go I'll never understand. He was the best keeper Villa had have in the last 10 odd years and is still the best in the country! Ok, he also flapped a bit but even still, his reactions are top notch.
The other goals by Pompey were just class, nothing we could have done about the second one, the third was slightly annoying because Nigel Hokey-Cokey gave the ball away cheaply and Zat Knight missed the tackle but the finish by Muntari was top drawer, I don't think you'll see many better finishes this season.
A win today would have seen Villa rise above Pompey and would have set up the Festive fixtures very nicely, and much like the Blackburn result did for us, I think the scoreline slightly flatters Pompey, especially with the missed chances by Laursen and the near miss (hit the bar) by Gabby, although having said that Diop missed what looked like a certain 4th with an open goal to shoot at he shot wide, but make no mistake, they came out of it worthy winners and look like they really could be pushing for 5th spot this year.
Oh, and I thought Glen Johnson was outstanding today, wish we'd had the foresight to buy him, he marked Ashley Young totally out of the game and looked a cut above most of the players on the pitch.
And Villa? I tend to agree with Paul Merson on that one, if we keep with this old fashioned long ball game, we'll hover around 8th, which is a shame because when we play the ball on the ground, we actually look quite good. Rome wasn't built in a day, we've had a good run and we should still be able to go up to Sunderland with confidence next weekend.
Date:Saturday December 8 2007
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