Date: 18th December 2011 at 10:59pm
Written by:

After all of the build-up chatter and hype I thought that this was one of those games that failed to live up to high expectations shown by both sets of fans.

The return of Kelvin Davis was a big plus for Saints fans who cheered his name being called on the tannoy system with more than a little relief.

The first half began with both teams testing each other out but with no really meaningful showing of intent. The highly charged atmosphere engendered by the fans may have caused the players to be slightly more cautious than normal, though Pompey seemed to be playing a more defensive line-up than expected.

Chances were few and far between though Saints had a Rickie Lambert header fly over the top on 14 minutes after some good work on the right by Dean Hammond.

Play was in the main restricted to the centre of the pitch as both sides failed to make their mark on the game. Some tough challenges were seen from both sides, though in the main they were legitimate.

The first booking of the game went to Jack Cork for a foul on Dave Kitson and the resultant free-kick was taken with no threat to the Saints defence.Then soon after that, Adam Lallana went on one of his mazy runs but it all came to nothing when he lost the ball after beating three players.

Misplaced passes left both teams short of any really dangerous threat and apart from a tame effort from Joel Ward, Davis had little to do and as the half-time whistle approached the fervour seemed to abate from the fans, though Norris had one effort whistle just passed the upright with Davis sprawling.

Half-time 0-0.

The second half began in much the same way but saints slowly began to exert more pressure and narrowly missed a chance when Schneiderlin failed to take advantage of what looked like a screwed shot from Lambert.

Schneiderlin was then found by Fox but was blocked illegally by Joe Mattock as Saints continued to push forward. Fox took the free-kick and it was met by Lallana who tried the difficult and missed the target when a header may have been easier.

The respite for Pompey was short lived as Pompey gave away another free-kick from a similar position. This time Fox found Lambert with almost a carbon copy of the previous free-kick and the ball nestled safely in the back of the Pompey net after a typical Lambert header.

Pompey responded immediately with the introduction of striker Erik Huseklepp in place of Liam Lawrence. Saints though appeared to have the measure of their opponents and should have added to their tally. Lallana was put through by Lambert but he was quickly surrounded by blue shirts and the threat had gone.

Saints then brought Dan Harding on for Fox on 77 minutes before Pompey withdrew Mullins for Marko Futacs. The substitutions didn’t seem to alter the way that the game was going and Saints looked to have the points in their safe grasp.

Guly missed a couple of gilt-edged opportunities with the keeper Henderson doing brilliantly to save the second chance when it looked a formality that the Brazilian would accept the chance. Schneiderlin then also missed a chance and almost as retribution Pompey accepted the missed chances as their saving grace.

Guly was again heavily involved though this time it was too cost his team two points. Pompey won a corner which was headed back across the goal to Joel Ward who gleefully nodded the ball home. Guly had been standing by the post and appeared to lose his bottle and failed to make a serious effort to reach the ball and in fact turned away from Ward as he rose to head home.

The last few minutes were hectic as both sides tried to get a winner. Lambert came close with a drive from 12 yards but the game ended with the scores level at 1-1.

A hugely disappointing end to a game that in reality failed to ignite in the way we had hoped. Pompey were probably the happier having saved a point at the death.

Michael Appleton

Manager Rating
Nigel Adkins seemed to surprise some Saints fans with his substitution. 6

Opponent Rating
Michael Appleton had his team ready to fight but did appear to be negative in his planning. 6

In a lot of ways this can be said to be a fair result but the one lapse from defending a corner poorly cost us two points. We should have been able to hang on to the win.

Nigel Adkins
‘The game was there to be won – the game was won,’ he told Saints Player. We scored a good goal. Rickie Lambert I thought was a massive threat all day, he’s a class act and we got ourselves in front.’

Michael Appleton
“It wasn`t a great spectacle – the two teams cancelled each other out. I talked to the players beforehand about staying in games, and that`s what we did and got our reward with the equaliser. I think the players showed some strong mental qualities to do that.”