Venables' familiar suffering

Phil Andrews watches Terry Venables experience deja vu as his new team lose in controversial circumstances
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Nothing changes. You go all the way from Wembley to Valley Parade and your day can still be ruined by one penalty kick.

Six weeks after a missed spot kick ended Terry Venables' career as England manager, another painful penalty spoilt the party as Bradford won 3-1 in his first match as Portsmouth's director of football.

Until then, Venables' option to buy the club for just pounds 1 was starting to look like the sort of deal normally confined to the directors of privatised utilities.

Pompey only managed to stay afloat in the First Division on the final day of last season but their blend of home-grown youngsters and experienced talent was clearly inspired by the Venables presence alongside the team manager, Terry Fenwick, in the directors' box.

The pace and guile of the strikers Dion Burton and Paul Hall, coupled to the service of the former Liverpool and Arsenal winger Jimmy Carter, had the Bradford goal under siege, and Venables will also have been impressed by the ball-winning and distribution skills of midfielder Andy Awford, and the solidity of his back four, which ensured goalkeeper Aaron Flahavan a quiet League debut.

Venables' telephone link to the dug-out was scarcely needed until Flahavan made his first - and decisive - contribution on the hour.

The Bradford substitute Carl Shutt had not touched the ball before Flahavan brought him down and was sent off for what was judged a professional foul. It was a decision even the Bradford manager, Chris Kamara, thought harsh, but Erik Regtop slammed the kick past stand-in keeper Robbie Pethick, and it was deja vu time for Venables.

Until then, Portsmouth had been riding the crest of a wave. When Hall bundled the ball in at the far post from Carter's cross, it was scant reward for their early dominance, and even when they lost Awford, sent off for a second bookable offence, the 10 men looked capable of defending their lead and perhaps increasing it.

But Lee Duxbury's angled drive and Mark Stallard's late close-range effort were the inevitable rewards of Bradford numerical superiority.

A bizarre match denied Venables the opportunity to accurately assess his new charges' chances. Venables let Fenwick do the talking. "It went against us on one decision, but we saw enough to know that we can give a lot of teams problems,'' he said.

Goals: Hall (26) 0-1; Regtop pen (62) 1-1; Duxbury (76) 2-1; Stallard (88) 3-1.

Bradford City (3-4-1-2) Gould; Mitchell, Sas, Mohan; Kiwomya, Duxbury, Hamilton (Shutt, 60), Liburd (Wright, 70); Cowans; Regtop, Stallard. Substitute not used: Huxford.

Portsmouth (4-4-2) Flahavan; Pethick, Butters, Russell, Simpson; Carter (Rees, 87), McLoughlin, Igoe (Thomson, 80), Awford; Burton (Bradbury, 84), Hall.

Referee: P Richards (Preston).

Booking: Portsmouth Awford.

Sendings-off: Portsmouth: Awford 54, Flahavan 61.

Man of the Match: Hall. Attendance: 10,007.

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