Portsmouth 2 Watford 1: Boothroyd provides stock answer for official's 'crime'

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did his bit for football in Portsmouth, helping to found Portsmouth AFC in the late 19th century. So crumblingly unreconstructed is Fratton Park that Doyle would have still felt at home on Saturday.

He would even have found a robbery for Sherlock Holmes to investigate - provided he took Aidy Boothroyd as a plausible witness. The Watford manager was sure that a crime had been committed. "It was a bad decision, a wrong decision," he said of the late penalty given against his team. "We might have had two penalties and theirs was offside." He suggested an appropriate punishment for the fiend in black: "I'm not advocating prison, the stocks will do."

English football is currently so overflowing with unlikely exotica that it is even manifest at Watford: their forward Hameur Bouazza had been named in the Algerian squad for a midweek friendly against Burkina Faso that was played in Provence.

But there was little of such cosmopolitan allure at Fratton Park. This was a match from old England, the result emerging from a whirl of raw endeavour, intermittent skill and questionable penalty decisions.

Boothroyd had a point about Portsmouth being offside before Jay Demerit grabbed at Kanu for the penalty. Also, earlier, the ball had made contact with Linvoy Primus's hand as he had cleared from the Pompey box.

But, then again, Watford's goal emerged from inattentiveness by the match officials. They were given a corner when the ball went out off their own striker, Ashley Young. The corner was taken by Young and missed by David James. DeMerit was left with a free header for the opening goal.

Watford are so direct that Harry Redknapp inadvertently referred to them as "Wimbledon" after the game. But he was also quick to cite their strengths.

"That was the toughest game we've had here," the Pompey manager said. "We've beaten Blackburn here and Wigan, but today was tougher than any side we've played here. They work hard and they know what they're doing - I wouldn't bet on Watford going down."

Redknapp also impishly dismissed stories about Ajax pursuing Kanu. "What, the kitchen cleaner? I hear AC Milan are after me. Maybe I'll go and see the chairman and see if he'll give me a new deal." It was Kanu who won the match for Portsmouth. On 44 minutes, amid a goalmouth scramble, he contorted his crane-fly physique to chip over Ben Foster. Then he won the penalty that Lomana LuaLua confidently converted.

This 89th-minute winner put Portsmouth in third place and left Watford in the relegation zone. Next for Watford come home matches against Blackburn and Sheffield United. These look like matches they need a win from and Boothroyd remains confident. When asked if his team would stay up, he was without hesitation. "Absolutely - there are three worse teams than us."

Which teams these are he would not say. Given Watford's lack of both luck and guile against Portsmouth, their detection might just be a job worthy of Mr Holmes.

Goals: DeMerit (32) 0-1; Kanu (44) 1-1; LuaLua pen (89) 2-1.

Portsmouth (4-4-2) James; Pamarot, Primus, Campbell, Stefanovic; Thompson (Cole, 63), Davis, Mendes, Kranjcar; LuaLua, Kanu. Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), O'Brien, Fernandes, Koroman.

Watford (4-4-2) Foster (Lee, h-t); Doyley, Mackay, DeMerit, Stewart; Smith, Spring, Mahon, Bouazza (Priskin, 34); Henderson (Chambers, 77), Young. Substitutes not used: Shittu, Bangura.

Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).

Booked: Portsmouth Thompson; Watford DeMerit, Stewart, Priskin.

Man of the match: Kanu.

Attendance: 19,738.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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.

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there