Match Report: Portsmouth 0-1 Ipswich Town
On a day where love blossoms in the air, Portsmouth fans will feel neglected by referee Darren Deadman, who ruled out what they felt should have been a perfectly good goal for the Southern based club.
Michael Chopra's goal was the difference between the sides in a controversial and entertaining game of football. Although repeated choruses of “we will never die” echoed around Fratton Park all evening, Pompey fans feel aggrieved at the decision given by the ironically named Mr. Deadman.
The referee from Cheshunt deemed to have judged Greg Halford's 72nd minute long throw as going straight into the net. However, Pompey fans, players and associates alike insist that the ball took a ricochet off Ipswich's Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and the goal should have stood.
It was tough on Pompey, who to add insult to injury, will also shortly face a 10 point deduction following their inevitable second administration in as many years. Such an outcome would leave them in a precarious 21st position, level on points with struggling Coventry and Nottingham Forest.
Not that Portsmouth fans should even be talking about being robbed of a point. Visitors Ipswich were all over the hosts and should have been out of sight by the time the incident took place.
As early as the first minute the warning signs were there for all to see as Chopra and then Darryl Murphy couldn't quite scramble in Andy Drury's corner. Four minutes later and Ipswich came even closer as the recalled Damien Delaney looped a header onto the crossbar.
The Tractor Boys kept the early pressure up and this nearly paid off as Pompey ‘keeper Stephen Henderson, who rejected the chance to join the Suffolk club in January, nearly endured a ‘Roy Carroll like moment' as he allowed a 35-yard strike from Emmanuel-Thomas to squirm past his body. Fortunately for the Irishman, he was able to recover and collect the ball from travelling over the goal line.
Ipswich finally broke the deadlock as another set-piece caused all kinds of problems for Pompey. After Murphy had nodded against the post, Chopra reacted quickest to poke home his 11th goal of the season.
Spurred on by the incredible Portsmouth faithful, Pompey reacted well to this early onslaught and should really have equalised when six-foot five striker Marko Futacs blasted well over from six yards.
In the remainder of the half both sides seemed to cancel each other out, creating very few chances. However, as the half time whistle approached, Henderson reacted well to keep out a fierce strike from Drury.
Prior to the game, Portsmouth hadn't beaten Ipswich in at Fratton Park since 1966, an astonishing 14 games. A lot would have expected this to change. As soon as the second half began, the man in the middle - Mr. Deadman shared the Valentine's love as he spread two of his delightfully loving yellow cards to Halford and Delaney respectively. Astonishingly, in just 34 matches this season Deadman has shown 152 yellow and 11 red cards.
Backed by their ‘twelfth man' in the fans, Pompey started to assert the pressure but failed to create anything clear cut. Ipswich on the other hand should have been celebrating at least two more goals as the otherwise impressive Lee Martin and Drury both squandered clear chances over following some eye-pleasing build-up.
Town nearly paid for these misses as Halford's long-throw nestled in the net but they were rescued by the referee's whistle. Pompey chances remained scarce but sub Dave Kitson should really have done better when miscuing a volley in a decent position. Martin deserved better when he danced his way into the Pompey box before crashing a superb right-foot effort off the post. The bullish Murphy also came close to sealing the game but he couldn't stretch far enough to get a proper connection on a bouncing ball in the box.
Fratton Park may have been rocking throughout but the result was never in doubt as Ipswich held on to record their third straight league win and deepen Portsmouth's woes.