Reds can’t Fratton down the hatches..

Portsmouth – 3
Nottingham Forest – 0

“We dominated” said Steve Cotterill after the game – certainly the Reds gaffer has some justification in feeling aggrieved at fate, who conspired to let Forest control big chunks of the game – but then, you know what? You can’t really feel too hard done to when the other team proved more adept at dominating one critical part of the game, a part we’ve struggled with of late.  Finishing.  Taking chances.  We didn’t dominate that.

That was to be our undoing – and whilst I agree with the gaffer that the scoreline is incredibly flattering to the home side, I’m perhaps not quite as surprised (he has, after all, only been with the club for 20-something days, let’s not forget).  He just made the one change, putting Greening in at the expense of Majewski in an otherwise unchanged squad from the previous match:

Chambers   Morgan    Lynch    Cunningham
Gunter    Moussi    McGugan    Greening
Tudgay    Findley

The home side started in positive frame of mind – two corners early doors for them, but it looked like being a false dawn.  The Reds grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and started to dominate possession and territory.  Robbie Findley burst through onto a flick-on, but his effort missed the target under the attentions of a Pompey defender.  It was the American again looking to score, this time from 25 yards with an effort on target.

A lovely move from Forest saw Gunts make a run down the right hand side, and cross the ball in to an unmarked McGugan who didn’t make the best connection with his shot, leaving Henderson with a relatively easy save.  Further attacking saw Tudgay and McGugan combining, but the eventual cross from McGugan went straight through the area, evading any opportunity for a Forest player to convert.

With half an hour approaching Portsmouth started to come back into the game – Huseklepp started to look menacing, but his advances were stopped by Chambers.  Kitson too was starting to prove a threat, but a deflection off Guy Moussi took the ball wide.  At the other end Lewis McGugan put a freekick on target which Henderson did well to tip over the bar.  The resulting corner caused some consternation for Pompey, but Moussi’s delivery back into the box after a poor clearance was straight to the keeper.

As the half came to a close the home side again threatened, Razak played the ball through the defence towards Varney, Lee Camp was fast to advance from his line but lost control of the ball – but fortunately Wes Morgan was on hand to put the ball out for a corner.  They did get the lead before the break though, a freekick-which-wasn’t-a-freekick (according to Cotterill – I wasn’t so sure and it wasn’t featured in the Football League Show highlights).

Regardless, a freekick was struck excellently by Hayden Mullins – striking the join of post and crossbar before falling favourably for Huseklepp who finished with aplomb, curling the ball into the top corner.  Frustrating but not entirely unusual for Forest to fail to take advantage of domination possession and not exactly carving out cast-iron chances (that said, Lewis really should’ve done better with his mis-controlled effort from Gunter’s cross!).

The second half begun with a much more confident looking home side – Razak again fed the ball to Varney who pulled it back for Norris, who would’ve doubled Pompey’s lead but for an excellent save by Lee Camp.  Kitson too threatened but under pressure from Camp again wasn’t able to hit the target.

At the other end unusually a McGugan corner found a Forest head (sorry Lewis!) but Chambers’ header was blocked by Mullins for another corner.  McGugan again caused problems from a setpiece, this time a freekick, a delivery right into the crowded area deflected off a Forest player but loooped up and over the bar.

It looked like we might have got the equaliser when Tudgay got the ball to Findley who wriggled and turned free in the area, getting a despairing stab on the ball which looked to be heading towards the top corner, but for a cracking save from Henderson to put the ball out for a corner.  It was the kind of run of play that started to make you feel like it was never going to be our day (it never seems to be at Fratton Park!).

At the other end the troublesome Huseklepp was drifting his way past a couple of defenders before Cunningham was able to prevent him causing further damage.  Gunter had another chance for us, Cunningham had crossed and it was cleared badly, falling for the makeshift winger who got completely under the ball and spooned it over the bar.  As, of course, we were building some pressure and daring to dream again, the opposite happened!

With a little under a quarter of an hour to go Portsmouth doubled their lead – their first corner of the half was delivered well into the near post where Dave Kitson rose and headed in.  Gutting.  Cotterill’s answer to this was to replace Joel Lynch with David McGoldrick and reshuffle the team around (Chambers to the middle, Gunter to right back, McGoldrick into the amorphous entity that is our attack/midfield).

It didn’t really do the trick – six minutes to go and the game was out of sight – a cross from the right was badly dealt with, it came back from the other side and eventually Huseklepp was there to turn the ball in.  It could’ve been four too, in truth – Greg Halford headed into the floor from 4 yards and the ball bounced over the bar, a spectacularly bad miss!  Oh yeah, Reid came on for McGugan at some point too, and that didn’t make much odds either.

To be honest, the 3-0 scoreline is a bit of a misnomer, it does flatter Portsmouth – but I’m not quite so red-tinted in my outlook as the gaffer seems to be.  That we didn’t defend better for all three goals is a concern, and that – for all our possession – we didn’t cause more problems to the Pompey defence.  If we’d lost 1-0 it would perhaps not seem so bad, but a 3-0 scoreline always jars even if it seems a little on the harsh side.

A home game is up next before the international break – Paul Jewell’s spectacularly inconsistent Ipswich side are our visitors.  We could use a win.  Oh, and on a much more cheerful note, a big hello to Twitter sensation Wesley Hall who has apparently been utilising the blog to get up to speed on the world of Nottingham Forest that he’s been thrust into unawares!