By Oliver Bhurrut
ALBION clawed defeat from the jaws of victory as they came within five
minutes of their first win under new boss Bryan Robson and their first away
victory of the season.
But super-sub Eyal Berkovic turned provider twice in the 85th and 89th
minutes to allow Arjan De Zeeuw and Lomana LuaLua to turn the match on its
The Baggies were positive from the off and Pompey defender Dejan Stefanovic
handed them the perfect start as he fired into this own net in the 14th
Just when the visitors looked like getting on top, Darren Purse produced a
copycat own goal to level the scores ten minutes before the break.
But Robert Earnshaw popped up seconds before the half-time whistle to
restore the lead with his fifth goal in five games, only for his efforts to
prove in vain.
Albion carved out the first chance of the game within two minutes of
kick-off as Darren Moore, returning to his former club for the first time,
flicked on a Bernt Haas throw in to the box.
Jonathan Greening raced onto the ball on the edge of the penalty area and
sent his volley flying just past the left-hand post.
Darren Purse needed extensive treatment after landing awkwardly after an
aerial challenge with Ricardo Fuller in the eighth minute but was able to
Moments later a Patrik Berger cross saw Portsmouth appealing for a penalty
as Riccardo Scimeca tussled with Matthew Taylor and Haas, making his 50th
start for the Baggies, had to be alert to block David Unsworth's follow-up
But Bryan Robson's men continued their positive start and Neil Clement had
Steve Stone twisting and turning on the left side of the penalty area before
firing in a low near-post cross which Dejan Stefanovic turned into his own
net from close range.
Pompey almost replied immediately as Stone's right-wing cross found its way
to Unsworth on the edge of the penalty area and the former Villa man sent a
dipping volley thundering off the crossbar with Russell Hoult frantically
The hosts threatened again in the 26th minute and Albion needed Purse to
head the ball out for a corner at the back post from Unsworth's cross with
Fuller lurking behind him.
Seconds later Unsworth was taken off with an injury and was replaced by
Linvoy Primus, who slotted in alongside Arjan De Zeeuw with Stefanovic
moving to left-back.
Zoltan Gera then pressured Andy Griffin into conceding the ball to Robert
Earnshaw on the edge of the area and the pint-sized hitman unleashed a
curling shot just wide of the right-hand upright.
The Baggies looked comfortable at the back but they shot themselves in the
foot ten minutes before the break.
Stefanovic, the man who put through his own net at the other end, crossed
from the left and just when Hoult looked like gathering easily, Purse
stretched out a leg and flicked the ball into his own net to level the
scores with almost a carbon copy of the first goal.
But the Baggies went into the break 2-1 up after another defensive mix up in
the host's penalty area.
De Zeeuw headed back towards his own by-line when he had the chance to clear
and a lack of communication between Jamie Ashdown and Taylor saw the
Portsmouth midfielder head the ball to Scimeca.
And with Ashdown stranded out of his goal, the Albion right-back rolled the
ball across the six-yard box to give Earnshaw the simplest of tap-ins as he
recorded his fifth goal in five games.
Kanu produced the first effort of the second half as he spun De Zeeuw on the
edge of the area and fired a shot just over the angle of post and bar.
Berger ran at the Baggies defence in the 55th minute and just as he looked
like having a crack at goal he laid the ball off to Stefanovic whose low
drive was smothered by Hoult.
Pompey came close to equalising moments later when the ball dropped for Amdy
Faye in the box from a Stone corner but Andy Johnson managed to block the
Senegal international's 15-yard drive.
Robson made a change in the 67th minute as Thomas Gaardsoe came of for Haas
in the middle of the park to relieve some of the pressure on the visitor's
But it was Earnshaw who was threatening as he flicked the ball on and looked
odds on to beat Primus and Andy Griffin to the ball until Ashdown managed to
The action swiftly moved to the opposite end and Albion needed Hoult, back
on his old stomping ground, to save at his near post after Fuller had
out-muscled Clement and Moore to squeeze in a shot from a tight angle.
But the Baggies' No.1 who needed Purse to block Griffin's goal-bound effort
after the former Newcastle man had dinked the ball over him.
Kanu set Earnshaw free down the left in the 76th minute as he out-paced
Earnshaw but instead of squaring the ball to give Greening a simple chance,
he went alone and lost possession to De Zeeuw.
And Albion were left to rue that chance as substitute Eyal Berkovic rescued
a point for Portsmouth in the 85th minute as his free-kick gave skipper De
Zeeuw the chance to level.
Berkovic then turned the match on its head as he again turned provider with
a neat ball into the box for Lomana LuaLua to thump the ball home past the
PORTSMOUTH (4-4-1-1): Ashdown; Griffin, Stefanovic; De Zeeuw, Unsworth
(Primus 26), Stone, Quashie (Berkovic 81), Faye, Taylor (LuaLua 56); Berger;
Fuller. Subs not used: Hislop (gk), Cisse.
ALBION (4-4-1-1): Hoult; Scimeca, Moore, Purse, Clement; Haas (Gaardsoe 67),
Johnson, Greening, Gera (Sakiri 70); Kanu; Earnshaw (Earnshaw 78). Subs not
used: Kuszczak (gk), Koumas.
BOOKINGS: ALBION - Moore (foul 43), Hoult (unsporting behaviour 74).
GOALS: PORTSMOUTH - Purse (og 35), De Zeeuw (85) LuaLua (89); ALBION -
Stefanovic (og 14), Earnshaw (45).
REFEREE: P Walton (Northampton).
ALBION STARMAN: Neil Clement.