Belfast Telegraph

Portsmouth earn point to delay drop

Portsmouth 0 Blackburn Rovers 0

Portsmouth live for another day, but Anthony Vanden Borre's sending-off means their manager, Avram Grant, has even fewer players to choose from for their FA Cup semi-final date with Tottenham next weekend.

It was Hull City's loss to Stoke that ensured Portsmouth's survival until at least when West Ham take on Everton, where a win for the east London side will confirm relegation for Grant's team. Not that he cares when it happens. He said: "It doesn't matter. We knew we were down once they took the nine points from us. The Premier League made the decision in January but they did not tell us until four weeks ago. But we fight another day and today was another fight."

In a game played in heavy rain Portsmouth should have finished proud of their efforts. Jamie O'Hara was indispensable, first clearing Phil Jones's early effort off the line before being denied a goal of his own by Rovers' goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

Grant will miss the Tottenham loan midfielder in next week's FA Cup semi-final as he is unable to play against his parent club, and the Portsmouth manager's frustration at being unable to field the best player left at the club – plus the 11 he has out injured – is made worse by the fact that Vanden Borre ruled himself out of the Wembley match with his silly sending-off. Even here Grant was unable to field a full complement of substitutes, with Frédéric Piquionne the only senior player among the six on the bench.

On the red card Grant called for "common sense" to prevail, although the Belgian looked to have handled the ball having been booked for a vicious challenge on Steven Nzonzi.

Portsmouth dealt with Rovers admirably, with Aaron Mokoena, in an unfamiliar central defensive role, doing a great job of frustrating Jason Roberts and El-Hadji Diouf in front of goal. Not that Portsmouth had many sights of the opposition goal. Aside from O'Hara's effort, Kanu's late attempt was their only notable chance.

The Blackburn manager, Sam Allardyce, admitted his side may already be in holiday mode, as they are guaranteed safety, rueing the fact that they had many chances to win the game. He said: "It was very much the order of our season, that we had that many chances against a side with a lot of injuries and down to 10 men. It is still a point, but throwing away two points was a real disappointment."

Attendance: 16,207

Referee: Steve Bennett

Man of the match: O'Hara

Source: Independent

Belfast Telegraph


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