London Saints

Late goal flurry flatters Pompey

Saints 1, Pompey 4
The chances of Southampton and Portsmouth meeting at 3 p.m. on a Saturday were remote even if Sky TV did not take an interest, and the odds are a lot longer after what happened at the end of an eventful cup tie. From what I can see, if everything was confined to a bunch of willing participants in Britannia Road, then the police and the city got off lightly – but with Southampton’s home-grown thugs as much to the fore as those who brought in PFC’s ‘no surrender’ banner, we still have a long way to go.
On the pitch, the only change from the side that took Saints to Wembley in midweek was the enforced absence of cup-tied Fonte. That meant another adventurous line-up against opponents who clearly had extra Premier League class but at times can look silly at the back. It was the correct tactic and with a bit more fortune and/or composure Saints could have achieved a much more positive outcome. N’Diaye spurned the first opportunity after an offside trap failed to spring, but even if the finish was far from clinical, he was really thwarted by very good goalkeeping by James.
Davis had to make a fine save at the other end, but that came half way through the half and was the first moment of danger for the home side. The former England keeper is not called ‘Calamity James’ for nothing, and he almost presented Jaidi with an opportunity and then he had as much idea about what resulted from a corner just before the interval as the rest of us: ITV’s highlights didn’t think this moment worth featuring but it looked to me as though Pompey were only saved by the woodwork.
However it was James again who stopped Saints taking a deserved lead with an outstanding save from Lallana as the game opened up after the break.
After 65 minutes, the goals began to arrive and Portsmouth’s swifter pace throughout their side eventually told: Southampton’s defence were unlucky that a loose ball fell to Owusu-Abeyie but they had already been stretched. The inevitable taunts began, and that’s how it should be for a passionate derby, although the question ‘what division are you in?’ could have been answered by saying that at least it wasn’t the Chancery Division of the High Court (bankruptcy section). Instead Lambert had his own response as he was relieved of his free kick duties and rose to head home Harding’s deep cross.
Saints’ achilles heel could be spotted as Thomas, Jaidi and Perry with a combined age of exactly 100 lined up across the middle. The remaining Portsmouth goals, and there were several, all came on the break, started by Dindane on 74 minutes. Even then substitute Barnard caused uncertainty at the back and although you can’t blame him for applying the touch after Lallana sought to take advantage, he was clearly offside. Belhadj on 82 minutes put the game beyond Saints but Mr. Pardew still opted for attack by replacing Perry at a stage when many of us were just hoping it wouldn’t get embarrassing. All we got for this ploy was another away goal, scored by O’Hara.
Had the Premier League possessed the balls to continue Pompey’s transfer ban, neither Owusu-Abeyie nor O’Hara would have played.
So the possibility of 5 trips to Wembley is reduced to 2 in one fell swoop. But there is a saying about a bird in the hand…

LSSC Man of the Match: Dean Hammond, leading by example.

Alan Pardew:
“We tried to play a controlled game and not to open it up”.
“We did well with that. We were very disappointed not to be leading at half-time, David James was terrific, and it was evenly poised.”.
“Psychologically, scoring first would have been tough for Portsmouth”.
“I think next time we’ll play them we’ll be in a stronger position. We are a lot closer than the team that played because we had players unavailable.”

01 Davis
02 Harding
03 Thomas
05 Perry (Holmes 83)
06 Jaidi
14 Hammond
19 Schneiderlin
37 Antonio
07 Lambert
09 Papa Waigo (Barnard 72)
20 Lallana

Ref: Webb
Att: 31,385

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