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Saturday March 24, 2012 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Ricoh Arena, Coventry City FC, Coventry, England npower championship fixture
Kick off 3pm (GMT)
Luke Varney and Martin Crainie challenge for the ball
MATCH RESULT Coventry City 2 Portsmouth 0
Pompey were unchanged
Pompey: Ashdown, Halford, Pearce, Rocha, Ben Haim, Allan, Thorne, Norris, Ward, Varney, Maguire. Subs: Futacs, Etuhu, Harris, Rekik, Scapuzzi
Coventry: Murphy, Keogh, Hussey, Clingan, McSheffrey, Cranie, Norwood, Nimely, Platt, Clarke, Thomas. Subs: Dunn, Deegan, McDonald, Christie, Bigirimana.
Referee Geoff Eltringham
Match report from Fratton Faithful
Coventry City 2 Portsmouth 0
Portsmouth's prospects of Championship football next season took a nose dive after two second half goals from Coventry condemned them to yet another away defeat.
The first half was a poor affair between two poor teams. Pompey often lacked a final ball to create any real chances whilst Coventry's long ball tactic failed to reap rewards, though Jamie Ashdown did have one good save to make from Clive Platt.
Joel Ward had Pompey's "best" chance of the half as he headed over a cross but that was as good as it got. Luke Varney may have gone down in the box after a supposed foul but he was ineffective for the rest of the game.
With the game goalless at half-time you would have expected Michael Appleton to deliver one of his team talks and for his side to come flying out of the traps like they did against Birmingham and Bristol City.
However, those expectations were misplaced as it was Andy Thorn's men who swamped Pompey in a sea of Sky Blue and began to dominate proceedings.
It took just ten minutes for the hosts to take the lead, albeit with a touch of good fortune. Chris Hussey's mishit shot fell straight into the path of Gary McSheffrey who blasted the ball past Ashdown.
Pompey came close to equalising through Chris Maguire's free kick but the ball cannoned off the inside of the post and then bounced to safety.
What little resistance the visitors showed was soon put to an end thanks to some atrocious defending.
Alex Nimely managed to get the better of two Pompey defenders before squaring the ball to the far post where Oliver Norwood had all the time in the world to pick his spot with nobody in a red & black shirt anywhere near him.
Pompey plugged away for a consolation but there was little to be happy about come the final whistle as the home fans finally woke up and started singing songs about Coventry staying up.
To sum up this performance, the defence went to pieces in the second half, there was no quality in the midfield and we were toothless up front.
There will be questions asked of Michael Appleton following this shambles. Why did Kelvin Etuhu and Marko Futacs not start after scoring on Tuesday? Why are the passes going astray?
In truth, there isn't much time to dwell on this defeat and thankfully there is a chance, albeit small, that Pompey can get out of trouble but only if they win their next two home games against Hull and Burnley.
Even then, our away performances need to improve drastically as the next game on the road is one we definitely don't want to lose, whether we're as good as relegated or not.
Pompey Player Ratings
Jamie Ashdown: 6 - Can't be blamed for either goal.
Greg Halford: 5 - Given a hard time by wingers.
Jason Pearce: 5 - Struggled in the second half.
Ricardo Rocha: 5 - Not his usual self.
Tal Ben-Haim: 4 - Didn't seem interested.
Scott Allan: 4 - Didn't provide anything.
George Thorne: 4 - Passing was poor.
David Norris: 5 - Only slightly better than the rest of the mdifield.
Joel Ward: 4 - Went missing for much of the game.
Luke Varney: 5 - Should have been taken off earlier.
Chris Maguire: 6 - Only outfield player to emerge with any credit.
Kelvin Etuhu (Norris 62): 5 - No impact.
Luca Scapuzzi (Allan 83): N/A - No time to impress.
Marko Futacs (Ward 62): 6 - Caused a few problems around the box.
Match Report from truebluearmy.com
Away from home, Pompey's recent form has become predictable - and so it was at Coventry as Michael Appleton's team failed to build on their midweek win over Birmingham and fell deeper into relegation trouble.
Pompey had more than their fair share of chances at the Ricoh Arena but they didn't take them - and as has so often been the case on the road this season, that proved costly as their opponents showed them how it was done.
Gary McSheffrey and Oliver Norwood grabbed the goals in the second half - the second of them certainly against the run of play - to leave Pompey still bottom of the table and with a bigger-than-ever hill to climb if they are to avoid relegation to League One. The only good news was that Bristol City, the team Pompey have to catch, surrendered a lead to draw at Middlesbrough.
Pompey were unchanged from the side who started the win over Birmingham which meant Kelvin Etuhu and new Manchester City loan pair Karim Rekik and Luca Scapuzzi all had to settle for places on the bench.
Pompey began the game five points off safety and two behind their hosts and the game began after a minute's applause for Fabrice Muamba.
The visitors began brightly and got forward for Jason Pearce to whip a dangerous ball across the face of goal.
Coventry's first threaten came in the form of a free-kick by Sammy Clingan but Jamie Ashdown pushed away the well-struck shot.
After that Pompey had the better of it for a while but a couple of promising moves were let down by the final ball.
Chris Maguire got a clean connection on a free-kick but keeper Joe Murphy saved at the second attempt.
Maguire found space for another shot which Murphy dealt with and David Norris was next to try his luck in Pompey's bright start to the game.
Gradually Coventry got a grip on the game and they looked certain to take the lead when Clive Platt beat Ricardo Rocha and closed in on Ashdown, but the keeper made a brilliant stop to keep it goalless.
Now Ashdown was much the busier of the two keepers and he was called into action a couple more times as Coventry enjoyed a spell of pressure.
Joel Ward missed a fantastic chance to head Pompey into the lead when a corner found him unmarked at the far post but he headed wide from a few yards out.
The Blues suffered a blow when Luke Varney went down with what looked like a hamstring injury. But happily he was soon back on his feet and going past his man for a shot at goal from an acute angle which was just wide.
Pompey were being roared on by a 1,000-strong army of travelling fans who were comfortably outsinging the home crowd.
Varney seemed to have been spurred into life by his brush with injury and he went close with a header from a Greg Halford cross.
It was an open game and anyone's to win as the first half drew to a close, with both teams looking threatening in short bursts.
The Sky Blues hadn't finished the first half well and made a change at the break, bringing on Conor Thomas for Gael Bigiminara.
Pompey were first to show in the seocnd period as Ward sent in a long-range shot but Murphy saved comfortably.
The second half was following a similar pattern to the first with neither side absolutely on top, but Coventry broke the deadlock just before the hour mark when Chris Hussey got forward and slid in a cross which cSheffrey put away.
Appleton's men were almost level immediately when Maguire went through and lifted a shot just over the bar.
The game had become even more open following the goal and Ashdown had to be at his best to deny Alex Nimely, whose 25-yard free-kick following a foul on him by Pearce was superbly blocked.
A minute later Nimely forced Ashdown into another sharp save with a shot on the run.
Etuhu and Marko Futacs replaced Ward and Norris as Appleton tried to engineer a rescue mission.
Pompey looked serious about salvaging a point as they pushed men forward and Maguire almost grabbed the equaliser, striking the post from a free-kick after Richard Keogh handled Allan's shot at goal.
Maguire, Etuhu and Varney all went close for Pompey - the latter missing with a header from a free-kick that found him unmarked - and he really should have put it away.
Pompey were winning more than their share of free-kicks and Maguire was taking most of them - but one, 35 yards out, proved too far and he struck his effort high and wide.
Just as Pompey were cranking up the pressure Coventry broke their hearts with a second against the run of play, with Norwood on hand to smash the ball after a quick passing move by the home side. It left Pompey with a mountain to climb.
Appleton's last throw of the dice saw Scapuzzi replace Allan but there was little time left for him to make an impression.
Pompey still pushed forward in the hope of getting back into it, but looked increasingly desperate as they did so and there was no way back and Murphy's injury-time save from Maguire, who'd again been one of Pompey's brightest performers, was the last meaningful action.
Pompey: Ashdown, Halford, Rocha, Pearce (c), Ben Haim, Thorne, Norris, Allan, Ward, Maguire, Varney. Subs: Rekik, Etuhu, Scapuzzi, Harris, Futacs.
Ref: Geoff Eltringham
Published on Saturday 24 March 2012 18:17
Michael Appleton was left seething by his lacklustre men as they fell to defeat at Coventry today.
Appleton believed his men lacked the same energy they performed with against Birmingham as they went down to a 2-0 loss at the Ricoh Arena.
The Pompey manager was angered with his men’s display and was at a loss to explain why they didn’t deliver.
He insisted the problems surrounding the club were not a valid excuse for them to use.
The Blues had their chances through the likes of Luke Varney, Joel Ward and Chris Maguire but failed to build on the 4-1 win on Tuesday.
Pompey are now six points from safety going into Tuesday’s meeting with Hull.
Appleton believes it will be the next two games which define what happens with eight games left this season.
He said: ‘It was disappointing.
‘We didn’t start well and I think we lacked that bit of energy.
‘We can’t use what is happening around the club as an excuse. We have to perform better.
‘Too often we made the wrong the choices.
‘But we have two home games coming up. I’ve said all along that they are going to be crucial.’
Very disappointing result.. MUST win next 2 games..our away support was great but the team weren't up for it..
From the Official SIte
Michael Appleton fumed at his players over Pompey’s defeat to relegation rivals Coventry.
The Blues boss felt his side lacked energy as the 2-0 loss left them six points off safety.
Second half goals by Gary McSheffrey and Oliver Norwood undid the good work of Pompey's midweek win over Birmingham.
Chris Maguire’s free-kick against the post was the closest Pompey came to a response against Andy Thorn’s men, who moved five points clear of the Blues.
Appleton let his feelings known to the players after the loss and demanded they make amends with six points from two home games in four days against Hull and Burnley.
The Blues boss said: “I think were we short of where we needed to be. Coventry started the second half quickly and we didn’t get going, and it cost us dearly.
“We hit the post and had a couple of half chances. There wasn’t that much in the game.
“But we’re at the stage of the season where you’ve got to take the bull by the horns in a game. The first half was played at almost a testimonial pace.
“After the performance against Birmingham I was expecting the boys to take the game by the scruff of the neck. But they didn't.”
Pompey host Hull on Tuesday before Burnley visit Fratton Park next Saturday.
Appleton said: “The defeat has knocked us back, but we’ve now got two home games in four days and we need to look to take six points from them.
“We’ve got very good form at home, but we’ve only got eight games left and we’re at the stage where we need to start picking up the points.
“The supporters were superb again and I told the players afterwards that they needed to make it up to them against Hull on Tuesday night."
Jason Pearce wants to make up for Pompey's poor performance at Coventry with a win at home to Hull on Tuesday night - the first of eight games which will decide which division they will be in next season.
The skipper says the players owe the Fratton fans a second home victory in eight days after a meek surrender at Coventry, when they were looking to build on last Tuesday's terrific win over Birmingham.
Pearce said the team realised the display at the Ricoh Arena, where they lost to two second-half goals, was not good enough.
Pearce told the club website: 'We’ve got a game against Hull on Tuesday and luckily we’re at home. We’ll need the fans behind us as they always are. We need to get a good result and give them something to cheer about. They deserve that.
'Obviously we’re massively disappointed (about losing to Coventry). It was a big chance for us to build on the Birmingham victory during the week, but it didn’t work out.
'Coventry had three decent chances in the whole game and scored from two of them. Both of the goals we conceded were poor and it’s just so frustrating. We hit the post at 1-0 and if that had gone in it could have been different.
'But at the end of the day we weren’t good enough. Everyone’s got to look at themselves in the mirror and reflect on that performance. There are no excuses and the gaffer has told us to analyse our performances and move on quickly.
'We’ve got eight games left now to try to get out of the mess we find ourselves in.'
Boss Michael Appleton was angry at the way his team caved in after the break - and he contined the theme begun by Pearce in repeating that a win against Hull was required to make it up to supporters.
Appleton said: 'The defeat has knocked us back, but we’ve now got two home games in four days and we need to look to take six points from them. We’ve got very good form at home, but we’ve only got eight games left and we’re at the stage where we need to start picking up the points.
'The supporters were superb again and I told the players afterwards that they needed to make it up to them against Hull on Tuesday night.'