long periods of the first half, it seemed as though our awayday form
would continue to disappoint, but a spirited second half showing earned
Spurs a point with a confident passing display.
The early play centred around our former full back
Noe Pamarot. Within seconds of the start, he stuck a boot up into
Hossam Ghaly's head and knocked out four teeth and cut his lip.
This lead to several minutes of treatment before he left the pitch and
then he was off for some time getting stitched up. Luckily for
Spurs, some sort of divine retribution struck the French defender, as he
pulled a hamstring to depart after 13 minutes.
For a lot of the match, referee Andre Marriner
seemed to be more willing to give free-kicks than let play progress to
see if any advantage accrued. It was hard, because as the rain
fell down, the players could not stop themselves in challenges, but when
we came out of the game with four bookings to the one for the home side,
it begged belief, when players like Glen Johnson committed a series of
fouls on Spurs players throughout the first half. It was also
typified by the regularity in which Spurs gave away free-kicks in
dangerous situations to a side well known for their dead ball routines.
Spurs started well, with Defoe testing James
with a low shot and Calum Davenport did well to block a Kanu shot at the
other end, in what was to prove a portent for things to come.
Campbell did the same to Berbatov's effort but when the play moved
towards the Tottenham penalty area, it all went wrong.
Losing possession in midfield, the ball was moved to Benjani 25 yards
out. He took the ball on a little and then drove a shot on goal
that flew up off Davenport's block and went over Paul Robinson's dive to
hit the net with Pompey's first effort on goal on the half hour.
It was a blow to Tottenham, who were pushed
back, with Robbo being required to punch a Mendes free-kick away and
Huddlestone to block another free-kick from Davis and then a header from
the same player. Matthew Taylor nearly sliced a clearance past
James as Defoe went through and Campbell came in to clear himself.
At half-time, Jol decided that Ghaly could not
carry on, so Danny Murphy came on in midfield to pick up where he left
off against Liverpool on Saturday, when he had a good game. His
prompting made Spurs move forward with a bit more purpose and after
Taino and Taylor had exchanged yellow cards, a cross to the far post was
taken down by Berba, but nicked off his foot by Davenport, whose shot
was parried aside by David James. However, the Pompey keeper had
no chance a couple of minutes later.
Murphy got the ball in the corner of the
penalty box by the dead ball line and made Glen Johnson look foolish
with a neat turn that sent the full back sailing past him. Having
made a yard, he looked up and knocked a dinked cross to the far post,
where Steed Malbranque was free to nod home past the goalie to equalise
from inside the six yard box.
Portsmouth tried to hit back, with the rain
lashing down and the crowd behind them. Kanu brought a save from
Robinson with a header and Kranjcar sent s shot wide of the target from
outside the area, as did Mendes. Spurs were not exactly helping
themselves when Lee got booked for kicking the ball away and Davenport
got a yellow for fouling O'Neil, but luckily, Taylor could only shoot
his free-kick against the defensive wall. Dawson threw a trademark
block to prevent a shot reaching Robinson and when Spurs broke, Defoe
made James dive to stop a curling effort after turning away from a
couple of players on the edge of the area. Huddlestone brought an
even better save form the Portsmouth keeper, as he struck a half volley
(off his shin) with power and James had to be sharp to turn it away for
a corner at the foot of his post.
Malbranque's last involvement was a caution for
handball before he left the field to be replaced by Anthony Gardner.
Benjani was off target from the resulting chance but when Gardner fouled
Kranjcar, he got up to hit a free-kick wide and then Gardner was on the
spot to charge down a shot from Andrew Cole. The home side put in
a late surge with Primus and Campbell heading wide and Mendes and Davis
putting shots wide of the goal, but Tottenham had earned a point which
they deserved for a controlled performance.
It was not a performance that cried out that we
would win the game, but at least we showed a bit more desire away from
the Lane and we should get more points on the road if we play a bit more
like this more often.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - CALUM DAVENPORT