Rovers' Sorry Day Out
Saturday 19th August 2006, 15:00
Rovers' season got underway today with a miserable trip to the South Coast. Lucas Neill and Andy Todd saw red as goals from Svetoslav Todorov and a brace from Nwankwo Kanu would see them beaten 3-0. Brad Friedel would however save a late Kanu penalty.
Svetoslav Todorov would open the scoring in the 23rd minute, knocking home a Benjani Mwaruwari cutback. Second half substitute Nwankwo Kanu's header added a second shortly after his arrival. Following his second yellow card Lucas Neill was shown a red card on 63 minutes. The afternoon would get worse as Kanu added a second in the last ten minutes. To compound Rovers' misery captain Andy Todd was also sent off in injury time as he fouled Kanu, giving away a penalty. The one bright spark, on an otherwise miserable afternoon would be Brad Friedel's save from the resulting penalty kick to deny Kanu a debut hat trick.
A poor Rovers display would see debuts for Benni McCarthy and Jason Roberts, but the pair would have little to feed on. Efforts were few and far between as the Portsmouth defence held firm, Sol Campbell having a fine game. Rovers will hope for better, starting with the visit of Everton to Ewood on Wednesday night.
Rovers would have very little of the opening exchanges with the exception of a free kick from Robbie Savage which had to be turned around the post by England International David James.
The opening 20 minutes would see little goal action with neither goalkeeper really tested with the exception of a couple of long ranged Portsmouth efforts comfortably saved by Brad Friedel.
Following two throw-ins down the right which would see Portsmouth venture into the Rovers half, the ball would find Benjani Mwaruwari who would get into the box before pulling the ball back for Bulgarian Svetoslav Todorov who would have the easy task of rolling the ball home from the edge of the six-yard box. Portsmouth 1 Rovers 0.
Lucas Neill would pick up his first booking for a foul on the Portsmouth goalscorer shortly after the goal.
Rovers were finding it hard to get into the game and could have been two down as the game entered the final fifteen minutes of the half. Michael Gray would deny Linvoy Primus, and Lucas Neill Sol Campbell, both blocks resulting in corners.
It wasn't until the half neared its end, some forty minutes after the first serious effort that Rovers would test the Portsmouth goal again. Robbie Savage`s 10 yard header easily claimed by James.
Rovers put on a little pressure before the break but were unable to make the breakthrough, which in all honesty wouldn't have been deserved.
Portsmouth 1 Rovers 0
Portsmouth - Svetoslav Todorov 26
Rovers seemed to come out with more purpose in the second half, a Morten Gamst Pedersen header at least testing James on 48 minutes, and a Savage free-kick needing to be punched away by the Portsmouth goalkeeper.
Despite a lot of possession Rovers could do little with it and it would be the hosts who would have the next chances, a treble of chances in fact all falling to the lively Matthew Taylor.
Having arrived on the field only moments earlier Nwankwo Kanu increased Portsmouth`s lead with his first touch, heading home a right winged Sean Davis cross. Portsmouth 2 Rovers 0.
More misery was heaped on Rovers as they were reduced to ten men with more than 25 minutes to play. Lucas Neill was ordered from the field after collecting his second yellow card for a foul on Kanu.
Rovers Substitution: 69 mins David Bentley (Off) Brett Emerton (On)
Portsmouth would remain comfortable for the remainder of the game with Rovers providing little or no threat, the hosts looking the most likely to adding to the score line, which they indeed would on 80 minutes. Brad Friedel beaten by another Kanu header. Portsmouth 3 Rovers 0.
Rovers Substitution: 82 mins Benni McCarthy (Off) Shefki Kuqi (On)
The final whistle couldn't come soon enough for Mark Hughes` men and the travelling fans, some of whom would have probably even missed Andy Todd`s red card, leaving Rovers with only nine men. Todd saw red as he was adjudged to have fouled Kanu in injury time, so Portsmouth were also awarded a penalty.
Friedel, who had made a number of saves, if not spectacular, would have the last laugh as he denied Kanu a hat trick, saving his low penalty kick.
Portsmouth 3 Rovers 0
Portsmouth - Svetoslav Todorov 26, Nwankwo Kanu 62, 80
Portsmouth - James, Johnson, Primus, Campbell, Stefanovic (c), O'Neil, Mendes, Davis, Taylor, Mwaruwari (Thompson 87 mins), Todorov (Kanu 59 mins). Unused subs: Jordan, Hughes, Pamarot
Rovers - Friedel, Mokoena, Neill, Todd(c), Gray, Bentley (Emerton 69 mins), Savage, Reid, Pedersen, McCarthy (Kuqi 82 mins), Roberts. Unused subs: Brown, Jeffers, Gallagher