Jansen checks in at Claridge's

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The Independent Football

From the outset it was clear something had to give on this grisly, wet afternoon and it was either going to be Portsmouth's six-match unbeaten record under player-manager Steve Claridge, or Blackburn's run of six consecutive league wins that had seen them rise to fifth in the table. In the end it was Rovers who saw their run end, but nonetheless they returned home with a point earned eight minutes from the end when Matt Jansen, something of a super-sub after his goal in midweek, headed home from Stig-Inge Bjorneby's corner.

From the outset it was clear something had to give on this grisly, wet afternoon and it was either going to be Portsmouth's six-match unbeaten record under player-manager Steve Claridge, or Blackburn's run of six consecutive league wins that had seen them rise to fifth in the table. In the end it was Rovers who saw their run end, but nonetheless they returned home with a point earned eight minutes from the end when Matt Jansen, something of a super-sub after his goal in midweek, headed home from Stig-Inge Bjorneby's corner.

Not that their manager Graeme Souness was unhappy with a point from a game they had dominated, yet had gone behind twice in before Jansen provided some salvation. As Souness said: "A draw was a fair result. Overall, I was quite pleased with a point."

Given how close Lee Bradbury was to curling in a winner for Portsmouth in stoppage time, maybe he was still counting his blessings. Not that Blackburn should have been hanging on at the end, given how many genuine goal-scoring chances fell their way throughout the game. By contrast Portsmouth, with their two goals, were a model ofefficiency for they scarcely had many more opportunities. But the pattern throughout was of Rovers dominating, only to be denied by their own wastefulness and some fine defending, while Portsmouth rode their luck and took their chances when they came.

Souness noted that Portsmouth scored their first goal with their first attempt. That wasn't quite accurate, but Nigel Quashie's 30-yard strike after 44 minutes was certainly worth waiting for. After Rovers had hit the crossbar through Mark Hughes, while Craig Hignett and Egil Ostenstad had further opportunities to break the deadlock, all in the first 16 minutes, Portsmouth went ahead.

On a rare foray beyond their halfway line, Claridge fed Quashie who unleashed a mighty shot beyond John Filan's reach. That should have been the half-time lead but Rovers responded with just as spectacular a goal, as Bjornebye curled his left-foot shot beyond Russell Hoult's reach into the top corner. But those two brilliant goals had not inspired Bjornebye's Norwegian compatriot, Ostenstad, to greater heights. In fact he was doing nothing but stooping to get on the end of David Dunn's cross three minutes after the break, and contrived, unmarked, to head wide from close range.

The pattern of Blackburn dominating but Portsmouth scoring continued in the 61st minute when Rovers conceded a soft goal. Thomas Thogerson managed to slide a pass across Filan's goal and Michael Panopoulos was on hand to sneak his shot home, giving the home side hope before Jansen sneaked in unnoticed.

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