Portsmouth Match Report

Let’s start off the the plus points. The main one was that for the first time in February – in 25 games, I think – we kept a clean sheet. And to be honest we never really looked under great threat. Defoe had a couple of opportunities but apart from that, we were fairly safe.

The second plus was the performance of Valon Behrami, especially in the first half where he was buzzing around everywhere, tackling everything that moved. He was hacked to the ground late in the first half and wasn’t quite the same afterwards, but it was the best I have seen him play.

Rob Green made two outstanding saves, and with the watching Fabio Capello there, I thought he did himself no harm at all. But is it just me, or do you feel slightly more nervous watching him than you used to? I have to say I thought David James was outstanding, apart from one of his typical flaps which nearly resulted in a goal. Needless to say, the referee gave a foul even though no West Ham player was anywhere near him. That was one of many decisions the referee got wrong, including not giving us a cast iron penalty in the third minute.

Defensively we looked relatively comfortable unless Defoe or their number 39 Belhadj had the ball. Belhadj was man of the match. I have rarely seen a quicker player. Needless to say, he ran rings round Lucas Neill who hardly contributed anything over the 90 minutes. He ambled around in the first half, doing his usual thing of misplacing passes down the touchline. When he moved to the left after Ilunga was substituted he seemed better, funnily enough.

Collins had a great first half, and Upson was solid. Ilunga had a quietish game until he was taken off in the second half, for what I can only assume was because of a knock.

The 4-3-3 formation saw Collison, Parker and Behrami in midfield. Parker was playing much more deeply than usual, but did very well. He was subbed with 20 minutes to go as he was clearly running on low. Collison didn’t really get into the game. He didn’t do badly, but clearly didn’t give the kind of performance he gave against Everton and Man U.

Up front we rarely posed a threat. The final ball was always slightly astray. The only real chance was a 20 yard free kick from Bellamy which hit the bar. Bellamy improved as the game went on, but didn’t really threaten. Freddie Sears was bright and buzzed around well. I couldn’t quite understand why he was subbed at half time in preference to Bellamy, but when Etherington came on and we reverted to 4-4-2 things did improve. Indeed Etherington was very lively indeed and staked a very strong claim for a starting place next week against Sunderland.

But we then come to the shambles that was Carlton Cole. This was his worst performance for a very long time. He failed to hold the ball up, direct any headers he won and didn’t have a single shot, bar a couple of miscued efforts. It really was an abysmal performance from the big man.

So overall, disappointing not to get more than a point, but if I am honest a draw was a fair reflection of the balance of play. We didn’t play badly, but we didn’t play well.

Green 7
Neill 5
Ilunga 6
Collins 8
Upson 7
Behrami 8
Collison 6
Parker 7
Etherington 7
Cole 4
Bellamy 5
Sears 6


30 Responses to Portsmouth Match Report

  1. chris says:


  2. chris says:


  3. chris says:


  4. hammeredcalv says:

    we need a striker who can play at this level ! none of our current strikers are good enough, bellamy is more affective playing off the last mans shoulder ! move him back to the wing when we have a decent striker to score from the chances he can create. no new striker in jan spells relegation !!!!!!

  5. hammeredcalv says:

    carlton cole works very hard, however, he is sh*te ! cant trap the ball, cant pass it properly, and for certain doesnt know where the goal is, and as for composure in front of goal, non existant. he has struggled at all the clubs he has played for, why ?? coz he is sh*te !

  6. Pablo says:

    I think Tony Adams was watching a different match when he said after the game he was disappointed not to take all three points and it would have been unjust if WHU took the points late on. Admittedly Defoe came close, but they were nowhere near as rampant as Adams would have us believe and undoubtedly Bellamy’s free kick was the closest chance of the game.

  7. E1 says:

    Very disapionted pompey were even worse than us and we still could’nt score we could of still been standing there now and cole and bellamey would put one in we are very very bad and things will only get worse from now untill january or beyond unless we get some new personel. We need a right back another class centre half a top striker and 2 wingers we are nothing other than a bottom 6 team at the moment no fight no class no pace I am sorry to say but we have bigger problems on than off the pitch, a joke thank god spurs lost.

  8. daniel says:

    Sears was subbed at half time because of an injury he suffered on the half-time whistle. Did no one notice him lying on the pitch getting treatment when the teams walked off for half-time?

  9. Iain Dale says:

    I may be wrong, but I thought that was James Collins…

  10. claire says:

    I thought it was Collins, too. I think you’re a bit harsh on Cole; he can’t do much if the ball comes 3 feet above his head as seemed to happen a lot today.
    Just wanted to say that the idiots in the BML who shouted “Freak” and “Does the circus know you’re out?” at Crouch should be ashamed of themselves.

  11. Gavva says:

    I am assuming that Sears was replaced at half time by Etherington in order to offer more width to the team, everything seemed to be going through the middle in the first half. However Sears seems to be the only player that offers that “spark” up front to us, and without him buzzing around chances seemed limited. Cole was industrious if nothing else, and his inclusion saw us reverting to “Curbsesque” hit and hope aimless balls to the target man, and in turn defeating the object of our formation. Another worrying thing for me was the ease in which we can be opened up on the counter attack. One good pass is enough to leave us exposed, and Defoe probably should have nicked one of his chances. Seeing Faubert as our last line of defence as he was on a couple of occasions was alarming.
    Not sure why Illunga was replaced and even more unsure why Neil was moved to left back. What’s happened to Walter Lopez? Finally, are we to assume that Parker can only do 70 mins now? I can see the pattern emerging that we will start bringing on Mullins for the last 20 mins of games, which will limit Zola in making tactical offensive substitutions if we need to push on and try to nick a game ourselves.
    On a plus (there has to be one) not conceding will be a big boost to the back four. I think we did reasonably well defending set pieces (where we are normally really vulnerable) especially against a big and physical Portsmouth side.
    So Sunderland away, Liverpool away, Spurs at home then Chelsea at home. Hang on we could be in for a rocky ride!

  12. Pepin - Czech Hammer says:

    The biggest worry is that we do not even know where should the next goal come from. Cole has never been good enough for starting place in Premiership and Bellars looks like he is past his best already (maybe he needs more time after injury, but I doubt it).

    We used to criticise Zamora x Harrewood partnership, but they were much more dangerous than what we have now. And look at stats how many goals they had between them comparing to Cole + Bellamy proficiency.

    We need striker badly. Searsy has the ability imo and may become good PL player (Defoe like type if you ask me) , but he needs to be played as a target man and not wide and what is the most important – he must play with someone able to score, so we depend on the proven striker and Searsy role would be just contribute and develope. It is unfair to expect the young lad to score regularly and save us (especially, when played out of possition and not getting the service which Bellars gets -90% passes go to Craig while 10% go to Searsy).

    Now we have no score Cole, out of form Bellars, injured Deano and promissing Sears.

  13. D&G says:

    Yes we need players but IF the currant owner is still around come January you can kiss goodbye to any new players, the man is skint!

    Even if a new owner comes it might be too little too late, with the currant squad we have I can only see another 3pts from now until the new year which firmly places us BOTTOM.

    Once you enter that rut it’s hard to get out of it (unless you have a player like Tevez) Also finding decent players in January is near enough impossible because no one is going to let a good player leave in the middle of the season.

    EVEN WORSE Spurs will eventually pass us and Sheff Utd are looking like promotion candidates. Most non Hammers will say sweet revenge…..

  14. the headmaster says:

    Come on people, let’s at least have some positivity on this post. The response so far read like a doomsday book entry.
    Look, everyone may be picking up points at the moment but it won’t last. There are 3 worse sides than us, or at least there will be in terms of points total, I would reckon, come next May.
    We need to stay positive, stay behind the zola man and not panic. Next season, with hope, we will have finally seen the back of the sheff u affair and be under new ownership. Our aim now is to finish 17th and this is an aim we will achieve.

  15. Doc H Ball says:

    Well said head. New ownership before a firesale in January or, worse, administration please. We all need to accept here and now that this is a season to ride out and stay firm behind the team and Zola.

    I thought we were okay today, but we shouldn’t have started with Bellamy, Cole and Sears. Zola’s got to play Bellend up front and not out wide.

    Look, we’ve got a good spine in Green, Upson and Parker. If Ashton was fit that spine would have some sting, but for now Zola’s got to get his front 2 right.

    ps – does anyone have the faintest idea about Kieran Dyer? Does he really exist?

  16. Tevezgate says:

    “Just wanted to say that the idiots in the BML who shouted “Freak” and “Does the circus know you’re out?” at Crouch should be ashamed of themselves.”

    Well said Mrs Crouch 😉

  17. Nonplussed says:

    Aim for 17th? Are you serious? We were 5th when Zola joined, and with Curbs in charge we would be comfotably hovering betwen their and tenth by now. People were on Curbs’ back because they expected a top 6 finish but feared finishing tenth or thereabouts. Now you’re happy to finish 17th? with so called attacking football? Curbs had a decimated squad all last season yet still managed tenth, an accomplishment praised by many in the game, except the West Ham boo boys. So Curbs is undermined and hounded out by board and fans alike for someone with an attacking ethos, yet we are facing a relegation battle instead and 17th is now our aim. Laughable.

  18. Nonplussed says:

    Oh and Dyer was last seen having lunch with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Bigfoot.

  19. DevoDevo says:

    Agree with the last couple of posts, can’t believe some of the stuff on the others. One poster can’t even differentiate between Collins Na Sears!!!

    Anyway, without Ashton, we are going to struggle to score. However, I much prefer the combination of Sears and Bellamy up top. Bellamy is wasted in midfield despite running his socks off and Carlton Cole was desperate again yesterday. Will we see what Tristan has to offer?

    Positives: Parker and Collinson working well together. I thought Collinson looked our best player outfield, so I’m not sure what game you were watching Iain!

    I don’t like Upson & Collins at the back. Repeatedly caught out of position and no pace to recover, only Green saved their bacon. Get Tomkins back in and plan for the future.

    We won’t go down, but it’s going to be a long, hard slog.

  20. Goatygav says:

    Sears is gradually coming to terms with football in the top flight. Every time I see him he’s improved. I say stick with him and he’ll find his goalscoring feet. After all – not every player comes straight in to the first team and sets the world alight. I could be wrong – I remember Kevin Gallen at QPR broke all of Jimmy Greaves’ youth goalscoring records, bagging 50 in one season, but never really shone in the top tier. Despite this I’m a strong believer in Tony Carr’s wisdom so if he says Freddy will make it I’m inclined to believe him.

    Bellamy doesn’t seem the same player as the one in Claret and Blue last year (when not injured). This could be down to how and where he’s deployed but I reckon it’s more than that. He seems to be losing interest.
    Collison, however, looks extremely confident and would get in the first 11 every time.

    Green didn’t do his England chances any harm in front of Snr Capello.

    Parker looks very nimble at the moment. Quick feet – good vision – combative and hard working. I hope he can stay fit as he’s a real asset.

    It would seem that the fitness levels were improved vs Pompey. I reckon Steve Clark is getting them in to shape and I expect this to continue to get better.

    Totally agree with the head, Doc H & DevoDevo. Yes – we’re a bit lightweight up front -but we’re gradually improving. The players are just beginning to get their heads ’round Zola’s new playing systems. Gianfranco has shown he’s capable of making adjustments where necessary – the defensive display yesterday was proof of that. Some of that was owed to Upson/Collins and Green however. Keep the faith. The results will come.

    Is Deano definitely out for the season – anyone got any info? We desperately need him back. Hope the rumours he’s on his way aren’t true.

  21. Mike says:

    Hi Ian, just wanted to say I’m a season ticket holder in the Doc. Martens lower and didn’t know whether you fancied meeting up sometime before the game for a pint and a natter as I too love the Hammers and also the political side of things. Give us a shout if you fancy, would be really nice to hear from you.

    Also, as for this week’s game, I thought that Illunga was excellent, such an athlete and soooo pacey! thought Neill was particularly solid at the back, thought Behrami and Green were awesome, and thought that Bellamy had a mare. 50,000 quid down the pan on him for the last 3/4 weeks, miss Ashton in the team so much, Ethers too, you simply cannot justify not starting the lad when he’s the most dangerous player we have at our disposal, taking people on and hitting the byline – draw most definitely a fair result.

  22. Dave Hall says:

    Good shout headmaster, too much doom and gloom going about. It’s early days yet, lets think positive.

  23. chris says:


  24. mike from Hornchurch says:

    Think we have big problems looming! Our strikers can’t hit a barn door with a banjo!

    We need a brain in midfield and an eye for goal upfront. Hope Dyer is fit soon he could give us that bit of creativity maybe. Agree with Chris hope Tristan can do it coz the others can’t. Seriously think the best thing for Freddie would be a couple of months out on loan with Bournemouth or someone!

    Really do fear for us. Have already heard that infamous “we are to good to go down” comment!

  25. Dave Hall says:

    I get what you mean Chris, but it’s no use just giving up from now until then. It’s not only us who are slogging it out in the bottom half of the table. We as fans have to get behind the manager and the team, and keep the confidence up, otherwise this will affect team etc. And as you said which many on sites haven’t…lets see what what Tristan can do. Only problem I think is the for5mation, its not suited to the current squad. Lets just see what happens. We’ve been through worse than this…after all, we are West Ham.

  26. Iain,

    Please get off Neill’s back. Not sure which game you were watching or at but your punishment of him was way off.

    Even when he went to left back he did his job well.

    You seem to have it in for Lucas Neill and I don’t know why!

  27. wellsie says:

    Sears and Bellars are both pace players and look to me as if they need to play on the shoulder of the defenders. Unfortunately we do not have a target man in Cole who can firstly hold the ball up and secondly find a pass to either of these two. Our midfield had plenty of bite on Saturday with Behrami and Parker but their final ball was appalling. Collison looks like a good player and should be perservered with as he may be our only hope of some invention in midfield. Without Ashtons intelligence upfront, i feel that Bellars and Sears will be inaffective as they have little or no service.

  28. Mike says:

    i’ll second that dibberdownunder, he can be a lazy, waste of space on so many occasions but he really didn’t have a bad game at all, especially in comparison to upson and ginger pele who got haunted by defoe. It is also frustrating when people like chris spend more time on their backsides, in their armchairs, than on the terraces, spelling specsavers phonetically and then thinking that its only a matter of time until MOTD calls them up as a pundit. Ho hum.

  29. chris says:

    Yes mike I am dyslexic,but it does not stop me having a go on this site! give me collins or upson any time over neill,also I spend every other sat west side upton park entrance castle street 23—-29 row G come say hello if you like I’m the 6 foot 6 geezer bald head tatooed whu on my neck,I’ll even buy you a drink at half time If you like,even though you insult me!!!

  30. Seb says:

    this is totally off topic so apologies but scanning the celebrity hammers list i noticed that both Matt Damon and nicholas cage weren’t on there…sorry if they are and i’ve missed them…

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