Nick Barmby, with a broken nose for his trouble after helping Hull to secure a potentially precious point, will not mind inflicting some pain on Middlesbrough next weekend, even if it means pushing an old mate and a former club closer to relegation.
The former England forward spent a season on Teesside in the mid-1990s and won a good proportion of his 23 England caps alongside the current Middlesbrough manager, Gareth Southgate, but will shed few tears for either's demise if Hull keep their place in the Premier League.
"You only have to look at the history of the Premiership and what has happened to the likes of Leeds and Nottingham Forest to know no one is too good to go down," Barmby said, revealing that a collision with Peter Crouch's elbow had caused his disfigurement. "Middlesbrough have some good players but it is hard when you are down there and we have to capitalise on them making mistakes. I enjoyed my time there, but I'm a Hull player and only concerned about what we do."
Should Hull return from Middlesbrough successful, the gap between themselves and Southgate's next-to-bottom team would stretch to 10 points, which Hull's manager, Phil Brown, believes would leave his side almost safe. "It would certainly put a big distance – more than a cushion or a comfort zone – between them and ourselves," he said.
Portsmouth, one point behind Hull, are beginning to breathe more easily, too. "We still need to win some games but we have stopped shipping goals," said the caretaker manager, Paul Hart. "We're doing OK."
In a match of few chances and one excellent save, by David James to deny Craig Fagan in the second half, Portsmouth's Hermann Hreidarsson hit the woodwork with a last-gasp header. But the dismissal of the England defender, Glen Johnson, after 80 minutes for a second yellow card irked Hart more than the result. "He is an important player for us and it is frustrating because I felt both alleged fouls were innocuous," Hart said.
Hull City (4-1-4-1): Duke; Ricketts (Folan, 85), Zayatte, Turner, Dawson; Ashbee; Mendy, Barmby (Marney, 74) Geovanni, Fagan (Kilbane, 71); Manucho. Substitutes not used: Myhill (gk), Garcia, Halmosi, Featherstone.
Portsmouth (4-4-2): James; Kaboul, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson; Johnson, Mullins, Hughes, Kranjcar (Belhadj, 76); Crouch, Nugent (Kanu 64). Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Pennant, Basinas, Pamarot, Utaka.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).
Booked: Portsmouth Johnson, Crouch.
Sent off: Johnson (80).
Man of the match: James.
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