How to almost throw away an easy 3 points by Tottenham Hotspur
1) Boss the best part of the opening 45 minutes
2) Go 2-0 up in time for half-time
3) Concede with around 30 minutes to go
4) Get a player sent off for a completely unnecessary stamp on an opposition player a minute or so later
5) Hang on for dear life and hope lady luck smiles our way
You might notice the above edition doesn't quite follow the same conclusion as yesteryear performances which no doubt would have resulted in a 3-2 victory for the home side. Sure, we did our very best to self-implode. Defoe, the idiot, is set to face a 3 match ban which means he will be unavailable for the NLD. All thanks to a moment of silly madness which didn't make an awful amount of sense at the time. I don't quite get it. Was the crowd on his back and if so, who cares? Shrug it off. Get on with it. Be professional. The only person Pompey fans should be angry at is Harry Redknapp, although technically it's the board of directors and the financial mess that caused the mass exodus. If anything they should be grateful to us for giving them a life-line in Kevin Prince-Boateng along with a far more healthy bank balance. Average for us, decent for them (mainly because the players around him are only half as good as he is - i.e. Dindane and that sitter).
Even 5 minutes of injury-time couldn't aid in the throwing away of all three points. Harry making substitutions at the right time, including Wilson Palacios who apparently had only arrived at the ground 15 minutes before the teams were announced and Gomes (at fault for their goal) pulled off some wonder-saves including one from a deflected free-kick which was outstanding.
This is the exact type of game/situation where we have a history of collapse (remember Blackburn away when Wilson got his marching orders). We didn't play particularly well as a unit, but did enough. And enough is enough, as long as it doesn't become a habit. You can't argue against going 2-0 up in what was a hostile environment against a side fighting for their lives.
Blame international duty if you want, either way, we need some general improving which I think we might just manage to achieve in our next league game. A little more fluidity and end-product. A little more authoritative in the centre. Whisper it gently, but this season is going to be even more open than the last with one major difference. Last term we sat at the bottom and had to spend most of it climbing our way back up and rebuilding confidence. This time out we sit 3rd with 19 points and the likes of Liverpool are losing games to balloons.
Aim for 4th spot? Even though over the course of the season (we need another player or two in Jan to really push on) we might end up 5th or 6th because of other ambitious sides around us, we should at least play like we want to achieve something more this season. Because things at the top are changing. They've been changing for the past 5 years, ever so subtly and its now more possible than ever to play catch-up. I'm not coming to this conclusion just because of this away day victory. Everyone can see that the gap - which is still evident - is not as monstrous as it once was. And we've been here before already. I've sort of changed my tune about this. I'm not saying we are a Top 4 side. But from the looks of it, you don't need to be one for a cheeky challenge. Let's re-visit this in late December.
Back to the match.
Gomes. First proper game back. Generally thought he was bloody brilliant. Match-winning saves. Should have save the KPB shot to be fair. But let's not dwell too much on that.
King and BAE competent and assured but not as comfortable as they would have wished to be against a more than plucky Pompey. Great headed goal from Ledley to stick us 1-0 up.
Bassong, rough round the edges, continues to prove he was worth the money spent on him. It wasn't an easy afternoon for the lad. Thought (after all the concerns) that Jenas and Huddlestone performed admirable. JJ with an assist, crossing in for Defoe who made it 2-0.
Tommy on the other hand found himself a little bit more under pressure as the game progressed (after the sending off) with too much too handle in the middle. Defoe, sharp and on-form before seeing red. Lennon was off his game and Keane did his usual thing. Worked hard, but didn't do anything memorable or game changing. All three subs did a job when coming on and it was a shame Niko had to go off as we appear to have a player who can actually hit a dead ball from the corner flag.
All in all - team wise - disjointed, poor in possession and not dealing with Portsmouth's direct approach. But we did enough up front to win it and we rode our luck wonderfully well. As for the opposition? Will they survive? I don't actually care. Personally, would love to see them go down just so that git with the cowbell is far away in the marshlands of the Championship. But tbh, they are showing spirit and considering the other clubs around them, they might pull off the great escape. Early days.
'How to take all three points when you shoot yourself in the foot by Tottenham Hotspur'.