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Portsmouth 3 Rovers 0


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Match Report by Anti Euro Smiths Fan

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," wrote Portsmouth-born Charles Dickens.

Yesterday, in this tale of two football clubs down at the coast where Dickens was born, it was definitely the worst of times from a Rovers perspective - shocking, spineless and utterly inept. Rovers were off the pace and second to the ball all afternoon. It was quite disgraceful.

The warning signs had been there prior to Todorov's opening goal. The defence couldn't cope with simple balls played over the top. In particular, there was acres of space on the left-hand side of our defence. For Portsmouth's first goal, Lucas Neill made a complete hash of things. From the Portsmouth cross, Todorov scored a simple tap in. I thought Andy Todd should have got tighter to Todorov in the box. The defensive shambles continued for the rest of the match.

Lucas Neill was guilty of a bad tackle for his first yellow card. From the resulting free-kick, Sol Campbell nearly scored with a header. For the second goal, another ball over the top caused havoc on the left-hand side of our defence. Pompey had time and space to cross from the by-line and Kanu headed in.

The third goal came from a diagonal ball lumped in from the right, which was again headed in by Kanu. We were incapable of dealing with balls played into the box. It could have been 4 or 5 nil to Pompey. As well as the penalty miss from Kanu, one of their other strikers missed a sitter towards the end.

Mark Hughes prides himself on having a strong defence, but our defending yesterday should set alarm bells ringing. Indeed alarm bells should have been ringing after losing 5-0 to Olympiakos in pre-season. Olympiakos are not Barcelona - they have never been beyond the quarter-final of a European competition. They were thrashed 7-1 on aggregate by Graeme Souness's Newcastle in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup in 2005. So the Greeks aren't exactly world beaters.

Without Ryan Nelsen at the back our defending is far less secure. Hughes likes to pride himself on the fitness of our squad, but worryingly Rovers were lacking in sharpness and speed compared to Portsmouth. Not for the first time, Bentley and Pedersen went missing in a match.

To be fair to new striking partnership Roberts and McCarthy, the service they got against Pompey was woeful. It just would have been nice to have seen a bit more movement from them. A couple of weeks ago Jason Roberts ludicrously suggested that Rovers could finish in the top four this season. Welcome to the real world Jason.

Saturday's shambles illustrated the weaknesses in our squad. We lack strength in depth in vital areas. We lost the services of Bellamy for £6m, but only spent around £5.5m on Roberts and McCarthy - spending less money than we received. The LET suggested we had £10m to spend this summer. It's looking rather less than that. How can we hope to compete at the highest level if Mark Hughes doesn't have any decent funds to work with?

Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Primus, Campbell, Stefanovic, O'Neil, Pedro Mendes, Davis, Taylor, Mwaruwari (Thompson 87), Todorov (Kanu 59).

Subs Not Used: Jordan, Hughes, Pamarot.

Booked: Taylor, Stefanovic.

Goals: Todorov 26, Kanu 62, 84.

Rovers: Friedel, Mokoena, Neill, Todd, Gray, Bentley (Emerton 69), Savage, Reid, Pedersen, McCarthy (Kuqi 82), Roberts.

Subs Not Used: Brown, Jeffers, Gallagher.

Sent Off: Neill (65), Todd (90).

Booked: Neill.

Att: 19,523.

Ref: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

Edited by Alan75

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