Football: Palace caught by oldest trick

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Crystal Palace 0 Portsmouth 0

Amid all the jargon surrounding modern defensive systems - wing-backs, sweepers, liberos and spare men - most managers have forsaken one of the most effective ploys of all. Not, however, Portsmouth's Terry Fenwick, who showed at Selhurst Park on Saturday how much he had learned from one of his former managers, Terry Venables.

The offside trap was regularly used by Venables during his early managerial career and this match showed how deadly it can be. Crystal Palace had neither the individual nous nor the collective strategy to counter the tactic as Portsmouth's well-drilled back four shunted up and down the field like plastic models on a table-football machine.

With Portsmouth stringing five men across the midfield, Fenwick's men squeezed the life out of the game as Palace were caught offside time after time. Dave Bassett's team, seeking their sixth successive win, did not create a chance until the last 15 minutes. Indeed, it was Portsmouth who came closest to scoring, Fitzroy Simpson shooting against the bar early in the second half.

The dire entertainment was not helped by the mudheap of a pitch and Alan Wiley's fussy refereeing. A match continually interrupted by free-kicks and generally undeserved yellow cards ended somewhat appropriately in the fifth minute of injury time when Wiley blew his whistle just before Andy Roberts' crashing volley following a corner hit the back of the Portsmouth net.

Crystal Palace (5-2-3): Martyn; Edworthy, Tuttle, Roberts, Andersen (Davies, 53), Vincent; Pitcher, Houghton; Hopkin, Freedman (Dyer, 32), Ndah (Veart, 78).

Portsmouth (4-5-1): Knight; Hinshelwood, Thomson, Perrett, Awford; McLoughlin (Durnin, 78), Hall, Allen, Simpson, Carter; Burton (Bradbury, 85). Substitute not used: Igoe.

Referee: A Wiley (Walsall).

Bookings: Crystal Palace Vincent, Hopkin, Pitcher; Portsmouth Hinshelwood, Awford, Thomson, Perrett.

Man of the match: Thomson.

Attendance: 17,039.