Sunday, 28 August 2011

Match Report: Portsmouth 1 Cardiff City 1

Kanu came off the bench to rescue a deserved point for Pompey against Cardiff.After a poor first half the Blues came alive and Greg Halford struck the post, before both the defender and Benjani had efforts cleared off the line.It looked like it was not going to be Pompey’s day when Andrew Taylor fired the Welsh visitors ahead with a neat finish.But Kanu met Tal Ben Haim’s cross 10 minutes from time to earn the draw that the Blues’ second-half display warranted.Steve Cotterill made two changes from the side that drew at Bristol City last week.Erik Huseklepp made his first start alongside Dave Kitson up front, while Joel Ward came in at right-back. Kanu and Aaron Mokoena dropped to the bench.Pompey’s new look strike partnership were lively in the early stages, although David Marshall remained untested in the Cardiff goal.But the Blues could have found themselves behind on 15 minutes when Darcy Blake turned in the box and fired a shot towards the top corner. Fortunately for the hosts, however, Jamie Ashdown managed to palm the ball onto the post.

At the other end, Pompey were still no closer to breaking the deadlock with Hayden Mullins volleying over from 30 yards.But the defence were doing their jobs and Jason Pearce continued his impressive start to his Blues career with a good tackle to dispossess Robert Earnshaw in the box.Cardiff were looking more dangerous as the half progressed, but Pompey almost took the lead with a fluke goal on 22 minutes.

Ward sent a cross into the box from wide on the right but the ball drifted, catching out Marshall and dipping onto the bar.However, it was still the visitors who were looking more likely to score and Ashdown was forced to come tearing off his line to deny Earnshaw.Luke Varney was not too far away for Pompey, turning and curling a shot narrowly over from just inside the box.But the Blues probably went in at the break happy to still be level after a disjointed first-half display.

Cotterill made a tactical switch at the start of the second half with Varney joining Kitson up front and Huseklepp going out to the left.And the Blues were inches away from opening the scoring on 49 minutes when Hayden Mullins was fouled 30 yards from goal.Lawrence laid the free-kick off to Halford, who launched a vicious strike that cannoned back off the post.The Fratton faithful were in no doubt about who they thought could make the difference, singing for Benjani as the Zimbabwean warmed up on the touchline. And Cotterill obliged on 61 minutes, bringing him on to replace Huseklepp.

Pompey were certainly looking brighter than before the break and were putting plenty of pressure on the Bluebirds back-line.Earnshaw was forced to clear Halford’s header off the line on 63 minutes. The ball came back into the box and after a mighty melee, some Blues players thought it had crossed the line – the referee, however, did not agree.Peter Whittingham then came to Cardiff’s rescue, somehow managing to clear Benjani’s close-range effort off the line.It looked to be only a matter of time until Pompey scored, but instead it was the visitors celebrating a goal on 71 minutes.Taylor burst forward from left-back, latched onto Craig Conway’s pass and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.

Ashdown then stopped the Blues from falling further behind by tearing off his line to block Earnshaw’s shot.

Cotterill brought on Kanu in place of Varney for the final 13 minutes as he tried to find a way back into the match for Pompey.

And it proved to be an inspired substitution as – three minutes later – Ben Haim swung a cross into the box and Kanu stooped to head home.

It could have got even better for the Blues in stoppage time, but Kitson twice had shots blocked in the box.

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