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Pos Team Pld Pts GD
18 Barnsley 40 46 -16
19 Nott'm Forest 40 43 -15
20 Millwall 40 41 -10
21 Coventry 40 38 -15
22 Bristol City 40 37 -29
23 Portsmouth 40 33 -7

Fratton Park

31/03/2012 15:00

Pompey
Pompey
1
Burnley
Burnley
5

St Marys

07/04/2012 13:00

Southampton
Southampton
vs
Pompey
Pompey
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by Neil Weld at the Boleyn Ground

 

A red card and contentious penalty saw Pompey lose their first away game of the season at the Boleyn Ground.

 

The sides had traded goals early on with Luke Varney and Matt Taylor both finding the target.

 

Henri Lansbury’s scrappy second-half strike was then cancelled out by David Norris as the Blues proved to be more than a match for the title favourites.

 

But it all fell apart when Liam Lawrence was sent off for a second bookable offence. Mark Noble scored from the spot after Jason Pearce was harshly adjudged to have handled and Carlton Cole then added a fourth.

 

Frederic Piquionne also saw red in stoppage time, with Greg Halford reducing the deficit from the spot with the last kick of the game.

 

Steve Cotterill made two changes from the side that drew with Cardiff before the international break.

 

Benjani replaced an ill Dave Kitson up front – his first start since returning to the club last month – while Aaron Mokoena came in for Joel Ward at right-back.

 

Former Fratton favourite Taylor started wide on the left for the hosts, but ex-Blue Piquionne had to be content with a place on the bench.

 

It was the hosts who threatened first, with Jamie Ashdown forced to tear off his line to prevent Cole from reaching Taylor’s incisive pass.

 

But Pompey opened the scoring on eight minutes as Lawrence played a low corner to the feet of VARNEY, whose sweeping shot hit Cole on its way into the net.

 

Their lead lasted barely a minute, however, as Taylor came back to haunt his former employers with a deflected free-kick from 25 yards that left Ashdown helpless.

 

Those early goals did not signal the start of a chance-filled half, though. Instead there were a flurry of bookings as Joey O’Brien, Mokoena and Lawrence all received yellow cards for overenthusiastic challenges.

 

Pompey did enjoy a period of pressure towards the end of the half with an under-pressure Norris sending a volley high over the crossbar.

 

They went a lot closer soon after as Hammers keeper Rob Green made a fine save to keep out Pearce’s bullet header.

 

Benjani tried to poke home the loose ball, but Kevin Nolan cleared off the line before Green was able to claim.

 

Then, just before the interval, Norris did well on the edge of the box to tee up Erik Huseklepp. Green used his feet to keep out the Norwegian’s angled drive and the ball ricocheted agonisingly out of reach for the advancing Varney.

 

Half Time: West Ham 1 Pompey 1

 

The second half started in the same niggly fashion as the first and Nolan was added to referee Roger East’s book for a late challenge on Varney.

 

Even West Ham’s second goal was ugly – not that the hosts seemed to mind. The ball fell kindly to Lansbury and the on-loan Arsenal man fired in a shot that took a huge deflection off Pearce to completely wrong-foot Ashdown.

 

Varney tried to bring the Blues level with a curling shot from distance that Green did well to palm clear.

 

But he could not stop Pompey from equalising on the hour. Varney and Huseklepp combined well and the latter sent a dangerous cross towards NORRIS in the box.

 

The midfielder’s header was scrambled clear by Winston Reid, but the linesman flagged that the ball had crossed the line and Benjani made sure by heading home from a few yards out.

 

Pompey sensed they could go on and win the game but were dealt a blow when they were reduced to 10 men on 67 minutes.

 

It was skipper Lawrence who saw red, picking up his second yellow for sliding in late on Hammers substitute David Bentley.

 

And the Blues were behind five minutes later courtesy of a controversial penalty. It was the linesman who decided that Pearce handled after the ball was struck at the defender’s arm by Faubert.

 

Noble made no mistake with the resulting spot-kick, sending Ashdown the wrong way with a powerfully-struck shot.

 

Cole then met Taylor’s cross and guided a header into the top corner to strengthen West Ham’s lead.

 

Piquionne – on as a late substitute – was sent off for clashing with Halford in stoppage time.

 

And when Tal Ben Haim’s mazy run was ended in the box by Noble’s trip, HALFORD stepped up to send the ball into the bottom corner.

 

But it was too little, too late as the referee immediately blew the final whistle to bring an absorbing game to a close.

 

West Ham: Green; O’Brien, Tomkins, Reid, McCartney; Noble, Nolan; Lansbury, Faubert (Bentley 63), Taylor; Cole (Piquionne 85)

Goals: Taylor 9, Lansbury 53, Noble (pen) 72, Cole 76

Sent Off: Piquionne

Booked: O’Brien, Nolan

Subs not used: Boffin, Faye, Baldock

 

Pompey: Ashdown; Mokoena, Halford, Pearce, Ben Haim; Lawrence (c), Mullins, Norris; Huseklepp (Ward 79), Varney; Benjani (Futacs 83)

Goals: Varney 8, Norris 60, Halford (pen) 90+7

Sent Off: Lawrence (two yellow cards)

Booked: Mokoena, Varney, Mullins

Subs not used: Henderson, Rocha, Kanu

 

Referee: Roger East

Attendance: 33,465

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