It was a ‘must win’ for Portsmouth. It was a ‘must win’ for West Bromwich Albion. The end result equalled a thrilling encounter with both sides ultimately drawing 2-2.
Portsmouth took the lead through makeshift right-back Younes Kaboul, after weaving his way through the West Brom defence and smashing his shot into the top left-hand corner from 12 yards.
After a nervy start to the second half by the Blues, West Brom equalised through captain Jonathan Greening, converting from six yards to shock the home crowd.
Tony Mowbray’s side then took the initiative and piled further pressure on the Portsmouth defence before finally making the breakthrough. Midfielder Hayden Mullins needlessly
gave away a free-kick on the edge of the Portsmouth area, allowing Chris Brunt to expertly convert from 25 yards, via a deflection.
Minutes later, it was a case of ‘anything you can do, I can do better,’ with Croat Niko Kranjcar scoring superbly from 30 yards with a sublime free-kick to equalise for a resurged Portsmouth side.
Whilst many Portsmouth fans will be relieved to have seen their side fight back to gain a valuable point, many will still believe it to be a case of two points lost.
The weather conditions were not ideal. There’s an old belief that Pompey ‘never play well in the rain’. Notable examples include games against Leicester City both in our Championship winning season and our first season in the Premier League.
Perhaps today’s match was another game to add to that list.
The game produced many opportunities however, thanks to a combination of poor defending and great attacking play by either team.
If Glen Johnson transfers to Liverpool next season we have a more than an adequate replacement. Younes Kaboul gave an encouraging performance on the right hand side, using a combination of skill, flair and speed.
The former French-U21 captain set the game’s tone by producing a low-fizzed shot across the penalty area, only to see the ball just miss inches wide of the post.
West Brom responded brightly with midfielders Robert Koren and James Morrison forcing Portsmouth ‘keeper David James to produce good saves.
Former Owls midfielder Chris Brunt then tested the England international further with a low shot just shaving the post.
By this time however, Portsmouth had already taken the lead through former Tottenham centre-half Younes Kaboul. After receiving a pass from Jermaine Pennant, Kaboul used skill to leave West Brom captain Jonathan Greening motionless, before firing high into the roof of Scott Carson’s net.
Despite taking the lead, Portsmouth never looked in control, with the Baggies always looking threatening on the break.
West Brom finally got their reward minutes after the second half started. Dutch defender Gianni Zuiverloon produced a ball into the Portsmouth area, which deflected off a Portsmouth player into the path of David James.
James deemed it to be a back pass, but his clearance only got as far to winger James Morrison, whose shot was palmed away by James. Unfortunately for Pompey, the ball fell to Jonathan Greening who had the simple task of converting from six yards.
West Brom immediately took control and extended their lead fifteen minutes later through a 25-yard free-kick, taken by specialist Chris Brunt.
James looked to have the ball covered, only for the deflection from the wall to take the ball out of his hands. Panic spread across the minds of the Fratton faithful whilst joy and disbelief spread across the minds of the Baggies.
West Brom had only won once away all season at relegation threatened Middlesbrough. They were set to double the amount of away wins until Niko Kranjcar stepped up to save Pompey’s blushes.
West Brom conceded their 59th goal of the season when the Croat accurately found the top right hand corner from 30 yards.
Portsmouth then had the opportunity to win the game through lanky striker Peter Crouch, only for the England international to have his shot well saved by Carson.
The result left Pompey knowing they had to win against Bolton the following week.
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