Crouch gives decisive twist to 'crazy' Saints soap opera

Southampton 2 - Portsmouth 1

Nine yellow cards, two allegedly "dodgy" penalties, one sent off. The match officials did everything they could to deflect attention away from Harry Redknapp. The Southampton manager could not have attempted to keep a lower profile if he had grabbed a baseball cap, jumped into the opposition dug-out and called himself Velimir Zajec.

Nine yellow cards, two allegedly "dodgy" penalties, one sent off. The match officials did everything they could to deflect attention away from Harry Redknapp. The Southampton manager could not have attempted to keep a lower profile if he had grabbed a baseball cap, jumped into the opposition dug-out and called himself Velimir Zajec.

Redknapp's successor at Portsmouth did make a rare appearance on the touchline but all eyes were elsewhere. However, for 45 minutes they were certainly not on the pitch. In the tie that neither side wanted, neither side performed during that time. But, like all good soap operas, the drama was saved to the end.

The Southampton midfielder Matt Oakley called the second half "the craziest" he has been involved in. But these are crazy times on the South Coast and there was even the twist in the tale as the former Portsmouth striker Peter Crouch, sold by Redknapp in his first act at Fratton Park, scored the winning penalty. It was his fourth goal in four games and came in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

The goal meant there was no replay and the collective cheer from the Hampshire Constabulary probably drowned out the home fans. Only four arrests were made, but Portsmouth will wonder why one of them was not the assistant referee Mike Tingey. It was he who persuaded the unsighted referee Steve Bennett to award the decisive spot-kick.

The claim was that Matthew Taylor had handled David Prutton's cross. The defender certainly leant into the ball. Although, at first, it appeared harsh the decision was correct. Indeed, to his credit, Mr Bennett got the major decisions right. Portsmouth's penalty, when Claus Lundekvam barged into Diomansy Kamara, was marginal but accurate. Ayegbeni Yakubu converted. Then Kamara, who was booked in the mêlée before the kick, was given a second caution for handball and dismissed. However, the 10 men pushed on and did not deserve to lose. Patrik Berger had looked the classiest act all afternoon but made a hash of a chance before the substitute Ricardo Fuller panicked and blazed over.

Southampton remained fortunate. They played worse than of late, Portsmouth better, although goodness knows why Zajec threw in his new goalkeeper Konsta Chalkias, who flapped more than the seagulls at the nearby docks. The Greek international could do little about Southampton's first goal, a thunderous 25-yard drive from Oakley. But the home side never controlled proceedings and were as uncomfortable as their manager, who looked careworn and confessed his relief that the fixture was over.

The Portsmouth captain Arjan De Zeeuw questioned the refereeing decisions calling them "dodgy", but the description could be be applied only to the result.

Goals: Oakley (54) 1-0; Yakubu pen (57) 1-1; Crouch pen (90) 2-1.

Southampton (4-5-1): Niemi; Telfer, Lundekvam, Davenport, Higginbotham; Nilsson (Jones, 64), Prutton, Oakley (Jakobsson, 73), Delap, A Svensson; Crouch. Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Cranie, Ormerod.

Portsmouth (4-3-2-1): Chalkias; Primus, De Zeeuw, Stefanovic, Taylor; Hughes, Cissé, O'Neil; Kamara, Berger; Yakubu (Fuller, 83). Substitutes not used: Hislop (gk), Skopelitis, Mezague, Curtis.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

Booked: Southampton Prutton, Telfer, Jones; Portsmouth Kamara, Hughes, De Zeeuw, Stefanovic, Cisse.

Sent off: Kamara (72).

Man of the match: Berger.

Attendance: 29,453.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral