07/04/2012: Saints 2-2 Pompey

Saints suffered derby day heartache after conceding a last minute equaliser to deadly rivals Portsmouth. It was a predictably edgy affair, with a large number of fouls interrupting the flow of the game. Pompey boss Michael Appleton got his tactics spot on, and didn't allow Saints any time to impose themselves on the game. The hosts were often forced to go long, with the opposition closing down space very effectively. Portsmouth took a very physical approach to the game and were unlucky not too have been penalised early on when making a number of questionable challenges. Referee Neil Swarbrick had a poor game, and certainly did nothing to help Saints. Schneiderlin was forced off injured on 6 minutes after being on the end of a couple of nasty challenges. The game was very scrappy early on, but Saints were just about on top, and had the ball in the Pompey half for long periods. Guly Do Prado and Danny Fox had long range efforts fly just over the bar. The visiting side continued to give away foul after foul, and were lucky to have a full quota of players on the pitch at full time. Ricardo Rocha could have been red carded after kicking the ball into the crowd before shoving Adam Lallana in the face. Saints got the goal they had been craving on 27 minutes. Billy Sharp poked the ball home from close range following Rickie Lambert's knockdown. That should have been the catalyst for Saints to go on and score more goals, but it wasn't. Pompey played some decent stuff, and were level on 36 minutes when Chris Maguire angled a terrific shot in from the left hand side of the penalty area. The goal came from nothing, but Maguire should have been closed down. He was given far too much space to get his strike away. Saints had a few half chances before the break, with Lambert, Lallana and Guly testing Jamie Ashdown.

Pompey had a golden opportunity to take an unlikely lead early into the second half when Luke Varney squared the ball to Maguire in the centre of the penalty area. Maguire failed to take advantage of all the room he had however and fluffed his shot. Saints were well below par for most of the second half, but still had enough chances to kill the game off. Pompey keeper Ashdown had the game of his life, making superb fingertip saves from Jose Fonte and Lallana. Fonte later fired over from close range. On 60 minutes Steve De Ridder replaced Guly to a chorus of cheers. The negative reaction towards Guly by some fans was unacceptable. Yes he was well below his best, but the fact is the team lost its shape after he came off. Pompey enjoyed good spells of possession in the final 30 minutes, although didn't threaten Kelvin Davis too often. Young Scott Allan looked particularly handy. Saints were still giving it everything, and had a great chance to regain the lead when Lallana rounded the keeper. The 23 year old was clipped by Ashdown before taking a dramatic fall to the floor after the ball had gone out of play. On 88 minutes Saints got what they thought was the winner. Lallana's corner was flicked on at the near post, before Sharp tapped the ball in from a couple of yards out. The linesman raised his flag for offside, but after consultation with the referee the goal was given. Sharp had been offside, but the ball had come off a Pompey player prior to him receiving the ball. St Marys was buzzing like never before until the 4th minute of injury time when David Norris hit an unstoppable volley past Kelvin Davis. The home fans left the ground in complete silence.

An absolute heartbreaker. Had it remained 2-1 it would have been the most perfect ending. To have it snatched away like that in the dying seconds was incredibly cruel. In truth a draw was probably a fair result however. Saints were well below par for most of the afternoon and Portsmouth played out of their skin. The performance was concerning and Saints need to improve fast if they want to hold on to top spot.

Attendance: 31,743 (3,034 Pompey fans)

Match Ratings:

Davis: 6. Will be slightly disappointed at being beaten at his near post.

Richardson: 6. Incredibly sloppy early on. Improved slightly in the second half, but overall fairly disappointing.

Fonte: 8. Decision making generally very good. Headed everything away and some good forward runs.

Hooiveld: 6. Reasonably solid defensively, but clearances fell to a blue shirt too often.

Fox: 6. Decent defensively, but set piece delivery found wanting too many times.

Guly: 5. Positional sense solid, but nothing he tried really came off today.

Schneiderlin: Booked early on, then forced off injured. A big loss for the team

Hammond: 7. His best display for a while. Stroked the ball around well.

Lallana: 8. Very energetic showing. Constantly buzzing in and around the Pompey box. Also made a number of important defensive tackles.

Lambert: 7. Was marked very tightly, but did fairly well when he did receive the ball. Good link-up play.

Sharp: 8. Two goals and some excellent link up play.

Substitutes:

Cork: 7. Worked his way out of tight situations with good close control. A good showing

De Ridder: 5. Looked bright moments after coming on, but didn't really track back and caused Saints to lose a certain amount of momentum.

Harding: Brought on in stoppage time in an attempt to see out the game