Football

Pompey keep fighting with draw: Match Review

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Ten-man Portsmouth earned a temporary stay of execution from Premier League relegation as they held Blackburn to a goalless draw at Fratton Park.

Rovers enjoyed by far the better chances as David Dunn and Christopher Samba both hit the post in the first half.

Pompey's depleted squad suffered another blow when they lost Anthony Vanden Borre for their FA Cup semi-final with Tottenham, after he was sent off for a second bookable offence on the hour.

Pompey boss Avram Grant went into the game without 13 first-team regulars and was forced to pad his six-man substitutes' bench with youth team players.

They added another injury worry to their list after four minutes, when makeshift centre back Aaron Mokoena pulled up with a twisted knee.

With Grant's options so limited on the bench, the South African midfielder knew he had to stay on the pitch and performed well out of position.

Pompey's only chance to score early on came when John Utaka raced clear on the left, only to cut inside and drive a low shot straight at Robinson.

Blackburn's first opportunity came after 13 minutes, when a Morten Gamst Pedersen free-kick fell to Christopher Samba, after Pompey goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown made a poor attempt to punch the ball clear.

With Rovers slowly turning up the heat on the Fratton Park outfit, El-Hadji Diouf picked out Jason Roberts with a superb pass inside the box after 19 minutes.

But the former West Brom man was promptly dispossessed by Mokoena and the former Rovers player knocked the ball to safety.

On-loan Pompey midfielder Jamie O'Hara, who sat out last Saturday's trip to his parent club Tottenham, nearly marked his return to the side with a goal after 28 minutes.

Kanu found Utaka in space on the left and the Nigerian picked out O'Hara, but his header was beautifully nodded off the line by Gael Givet.

Blackburn continued to press and Dunn came within inches of giving them the lead, when his low left-footed strike from the left corner of the box hit the outside of the far post.

Rovers should have gone in 1-0 at the break, when a Pedersen free kick found Samba unmarked in the box in first-half stoppage time, but his header found the post and Pompey scrambled the ball clear.

Pompey started the second half the brighter of the two sides, but their efforts to take charge suffered a crushing blow on the hour, when they were reduced to ten men by referee Steve Bennett.

Anthony Vanden Borre was booked shortly before the break for a foul on Blackburn's Steven Nzonzi.

Grant will have been fuming to then see him blatantly handle a ball down the Pompey flank and receive a cheap second yellow card for deliberate handball.

His subsequent one-game ban rules him out of his side's FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham next weekend and deepens his manager's selection woes.

Roberts should have rubbed salt into the wounds by firing Blackburn ahead after 69 minutes.

Diouf spun Pompey substitute Lennard Sowah to find him with a low cross from the right, but Roberts turned and shot straight at Ashdown five yards from goal.

Allardyce's men threw bodies forward in search of a winner. A string of balls into the Pompey box failed to trouble the home side and Kanu nearly made Rovers pay for their wastefulness after 85 minutes.

O'Hara tricked his way past Michel Salgado on the Pompey left, but Kanu hooked his cross high over the crossbar.

Despite Pompey failing to win, Stoke's triumph at home to Hull means the South Coast strugglers are safe from relegation for now.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Portsmouth
Football
Blackburn Rovers
Premier League
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