D'Urso card count beyond credit

Portsmouth 0 - Blackburn Rovers 1
Click to follow
The Independent Football

"I don't think I would have had much of a career if I was starting out now," said the Blackburn Rovers manager, Mark Hughes, after this testy, testing contest. "The game is reffed in a completely different way." Given that the referee, Andy D'Urso, simply applied the letter of the law - and in doing so issued two red cards and eight yellow - then it is the law that is the ass.

"I don't think I would have had much of a career if I was starting out now," said the Blackburn Rovers manager, Mark Hughes, after this testy, testing contest. "The game is reffed in a completely different way." Given that the referee, Andy D'Urso, simply applied the letter of the law - and in doing so issued two red cards and eight yellow - then it is the law that is the ass.

Admittedly, D'Urso, with that perennially startled look, acted like an automaton, but the rules are the rules. "Whether that's a good or bad thing is something people have different opinions on," Hughes added.

His was clear, as was that of that other former Manchester United striker - and another known for his aggression - Joe Jordan. "I thought his judgement was poor," the Portsmouth coach said of D'Urso. "There was not a bad challenge. He didn't have a good game."

However, neither did many of the players. One of the few exceptions was Blackburn's Andy Todd. He did well enough for Hughes to reveal afterwards that a new contract is on offer. Todd was frozen out under Hughes' predecessor, Graeme Souness, and has always been a combustible figure. He was involved in the central incident here - goading Lomana LuaLua into some kind of head-butt that was picked up by the assistant referee. Off went LuaLua, on stayed Todd, even though he also raised his arm.

That followed a lunging challenge by Amdy Faye, for which he was booked. He collected a second yellow in the sixth minute of injury time but by then the game was up for a Portsmouth side distracted by talk of departures. Today the midfielder Nigel Quashie, omitted here, will sign for Southampton for £2m, and offers have been made for Patrik Berger, who was a peripheral figure, as was Aiyegbeni Yakubu, also set to leave.

D'Urso became the target of that frustration but Portsmouth only had themselves to blame. They managed just one shot on target, and that was near the end, although they suffered from some cynical challenges - not least by Blackburn's two new defenders, Aaron Mokoena and Ryan Nelsen.

Hughes has fashioned a compact, robust side; first he made them hard to beat, now they are collecting the points to pull clear of relegation. This was their third victory in four Premiership games, which is all the more remarkable given the meagre resources at his disposal.

The goal came from Morten Gamst Pedersen, four minutes after LuaLua's dismissal, for which the Portsmouth player apologised. The Norwegian was picked out by Thompson's incisive pass and calmly lifted the ball over Shaka Hislop with the outside of his right foot. It was a fine finish, out of keeping with what went on around it.

Goal: Pedersen (55) 0-1.

Portsmouth (5-2-2-1): Hislop; Stone (Taylor, 20), Primus, De Zeeuw, Stefanovic, O'Neil; Faye, Berger; LuaLua, Kamara (Fuller, 86); Yakubu. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk) Unsworth, Hughes.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Nelsen, Todd, Mokoena, Johansson; Emerton, Tugay (Reid, 76), Thompson, Pedersen; Gallagher (Jansen, 74), Dickov. Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Stead, Gray.

Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).

Booked: Portsmouth O'Neil, Faye; Blackburn Nelsen, Mokoena, Johansson, Emerton, Tugay, Dickov.

Sent off: Portsmouth LuaLua (51), Faye (90).

Man of the match: Thompson.

Attendance: 19,904.

Comments