18 October 2008
ASTON VILLA 0 POMPEY 0
Pompey were forced to hang on for a point at Villa Park, as the hosts failed to make their second-half dominance pay.
The Blues’ job was made harder when Sean Davis was sent off for two bookable offences late in the game.
Harry Redknapp made two changes from the side that beat Stoke before the international break, with Noe Pamarot and Glen Little replacing Nadir Belhadj and Richard Hughes.
The first chance fell Pompey’s way on five minutes but Davis’ low drive was comfortably saved by Brad Friedel after Little’s cross had caused havoc in the hosts’ area.
But Villa had an even better opportunity on 17 minutes, Curtis Davies firing a close-range effort over the bar after Gareth Barry’s free-kick from deep was headed into his path by Martin Laursen.
After a lull in play, Armand Traore woke up Villa Park with a ferociously-struck shot that cannoned off the post on 28 minutes.
The ball then hit the back of Friedel and was only partially cleared by Davies, allowing Jermain Defoe a shot on goal. But the ball was at an awkward height for the Blues striker and his acrobatic effort flew over the bar.
At the other end, James had to come off his line to palm the ball clear when James Milner headed Barry’s free-kick across the face of goal.
Then just before the interval, Crouch met Little’s cross from the right but was unable to beat Friedel with a placed header.
Half Time: Aston Villa 0 Pompey 0
After a slow start to the second half, Ashley Young went close with a low drive that flew narrowly past the post on 54 minutes.
Then Nigel Reo-Coker’s cross-shot whizzed across the face of goal – but there was no claret shirt available to force the ball over the line.
Chances were proving to be few and far between but it was the hosts who were dominating possession and looking more dangerous.
Young tried to beat James with a cheeky chip after bursting down the left on 74 minutes but the Blues keeper always had the ball covered as it looped onto the roof of the net.
James then dived low to his left to keep out Young’s free-kick after Papa Bouba Diop had recklessly fouled the Villa winger on the edge of the area.
Pompey were forced to play out the last 10 minutes with only 10 men when Davis was shown his second booking of the match for a late challenge on Stiliyan Petrov.
It almost got worse for the Blues when, from the resulting free-kick, James Milner beat James to Young’s cross but Sylvain Distin managed to hack the ball clear.
John Carew hit the crossbar in stoppage time as Villa desperately pushed forward in search of a winning goal.
There was an unsavoury incident when one of the assistant referees was struck by an object thrown from the crowd.
But on the pitch, Pompey managed to see out a nervy last few minutes and hold on for a hard-fought point.
Pompey: James; Johnson, Campbell (c), Distin, Pamarot; Little (Utaka 71), Diop, Davis, A. Traore (Belhadj 79); Defoe (Mvuemba 82), Crouch
Booked: Johnson, Diop
Sent Off: Davis (two yellow cards)
Subs not used: Ashdown, Hreidarsson, Thomas, Kanu
Aston Villa: Friedel; Cuellar, Davies, Laursen (c) (L. Young 88), Barry; Milner, Reo-Coker, Petrov, A. Young; Carew, Agbonlahor
Booked: A. Young
Subs not used: Guzan, Knight, Gardner, Shorey, Sidwell, Harewood
Referee: Mike Riley