Saturday, February 21, 2009

Stoke City 2 - 2 Portsmouth

A chaotic 15 minutes saw Portsmouth snatch a 2-2 draw with Stoke in injury time at the Britannia Stadium after the hosts had scored two controversial goals.

An incredibly poor game exploded into life when Niko Kranjcar put the visitors ahead in the 75th minute.

However, James Beattie equalised from the spot moments later when Glen Johnson was wrongly ruled to have handballed before Beattie's header put his side ahead with Portsmouth howling for an offside decision.

But just when it looked like Stoke would take the points, Ryan Shawcross diverted Hermann Hreidarsson's injury-time shot into his own net.

There was absolutely no indication of the drama to come in the preceding 75 minutes.

The first half was littered with a succession of speculative long-range shots with Portsmouth trio Glen Johnson, Kranjcar and Angelos Bassinas all hopelessly off-target.

Jermaine Pennant's first testing cross from the right saw Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen and Shawcross get in each other's way but Peter Crouch's follow-up looped harmlessly into the former's arms.

Liam Lawrence's 18th-minute effort was by far the furthest and most ambitious attempted with his high 40-yard volley dropping just over David James' crossbar.

There was plenty of effort from both sides but little in the way of quality and the run by David Nugent, playing wide on the left, typified that.

The striker capitalised on Andy Wilkinson's slip near the touchline to sprint into the box but as Shawcross came across to challenge Nugent just ran the ball off the end of the pitch.

In the 32nd minute Crouch, showing a real lack of awareness and confidence, headed Pennant's hanging cross back across goal when he should have taken the opportunity to test Sorensen.

That was the closest Pompey came to goalmouth action as neither side created anything resembling a chance in the remainder of the half.

Just three minutes after the break Beattie had the best chance of the game when Sidibe threaded a ball in between centre-backs Sol Campbell and Sylvan Distin.

However, despite the former Sheffield United striker being just 12 yards out his woeful control allowed the ball roll to James.

Lawrence and Hreidarsson were both yellow-carded in the 58th minute after the Pompey defender retaliated to a late challenge by his opponent

In the 66th minute Crouch again rose highest at the far post to meet Pennant's cross but he could not keep his header down.

But, out of nowhere, the match inexplicably exploded into life with three goals scored in the space of five minutes.

Portsmouth went ahead in the 75th minute when Crouch, Kranjcar and Nugent combined in midfield with the latter's defence-splitting pass putting the Croatian through to slot past Simonsen.

Stoke equalised almost instantly when Johnson was ruled to have handballed in the penalty area from Campbell's unintentional flick-on, but replays showed the ball struck his shoulder.

Beattie fired home the penalty and then added an equally-controversial second straight after.

Danny Pugh's bouncing shot from Wilkinson's cross to the far post was headed in by the ex-Everton forward from close range, leaving Portsmouth players fuming as they appealed for offside.

However, justice was seen to be done in injury time when Hreidarsson fired in a shot which deflected off Shawcross and past Sorensen.

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