Portsmouth 2 Stoke City 1: Crouch and Defoe look like a classic partnership
Monday 06 October 2008
This was Portsmouth's seventh game in 22 days but there was no sign of any hangover as a result of their energy-sapping Uefa Cup exploits in Portugal on Thursday which did not finish until after midnight.
Apart from a golden early chance by Stoke when record signing Dave Kitson woefully missed the target, there was little doubt about where the points would end up as Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe once again staked their claim as the classiest little-and-large act in the Premier League.
Given great service throughout by Richard Hughes and Armand Traoré, the two England strikers capped fine displays with immaculate goals that would have been doubled had Steve Simonsen, replacing illness victim Thomas Sorensen, not pulled off a couple of excellent second-half stops.
Guts rather than guile, spirit rather than skill will be the key to Stoke's survival hopes. A flu bug left several players off the pace yesterday, while Liam Lawrence was absent for less conventional reasons – tripping over his dog. But as they huffed and puffed, Stoke were not nearly strong enough to overcome a Pompey side that were superior in all departments even without the suspended Lassana Diarra.
Crouch marked his 250th league game with a goal from a sublime overhead kick after being expertly picked out by Defoe. A piece of sloppy defending allowed Ricardo Fuller – who scored a single goal in 37 appearances when he played for Pompey – to level. But three minutes later Defoe rattled the post and when he next gained possession, Stoke paid the penalty for failing to close him down.
Goals: Crouch (25) 1-0; Fuller (48) 1-1; Defoe (51) 2-1.
Portsmouth (4-4-2) James; Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Belhadj; Diop, Davis, Hughes, A Traoré (Hreidarsson, 90); Crouch, Defoe. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Little, Kanu, Kaboul, Mvuemba, Pamarot.
Stoke City (4-4-2) Simonsen; Griffin, Cort, Ab Faye , Higginbotham; Delap (Cresswell, 75), Olofinjana, AmFaye, Tonge (Soares, 65); Fuller, Kitson (Sidibe, 62). Substitutes not used: Whelan, Shawcross, Wilkinson, Sonko.
Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).
Booked: Stoke Olofinjana, Simonsen, Amdy Faye.
Man of the match: A Traoré.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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