Sunday 8 December 2019

Defensive frailties dog Dowie’s Tigers

Smith 37, O’Hara 88, Kanu 89
Folan 27, 73

James Wrigley

NEW manager, same old Hull City. Iain Dowie’s knack of attaching himself to relegation certainties will continue unless he can draw on his experience – possibly even his Masters degree in engineering – to rebuild his team’s defences.

This late collapse was largely selfinflicted, as all three goals against could, and should, have been avoided. Instead, Jamie O’Hara’s late free-kick and Kanu’s winner a minute later robbed Hull of what would have been a first Premier League away win for a year, after they had led through two goals by Caleb Folan, recalled to the attack in the absence of injured pair Jozy Altidore and Amr Zaki.

Two minutes of normal time stood between Dowie and a debut win but Jimmy Bullard foolishly raised his boot close to Marc Wilson’s head, conceding a free-kick which the irrepressible O’Hara dispatched expertly past Boaz Myhill. Before Hull could regroup, Richard Garcia, who looked an inspired substitution when he set up Folan’s second goal to restore Hull’s lead, gift-wrapped the ball for Nadir Belhadj to set up Kanu.

O'Hara’s short-corner routine that laid on Tommy Smith’s first-half equaliser should also have been better defended by the team with the worst goal difference in the division. Dowie said he thought “35 or 36 points” was a realistic target for survival, though how realistic Hull’s chances remains to be seen. Instead the ‘bouncebackability’ – a phrase first coined by Dowie – was all Pompey’s as they reclaimed three of the nine points deducted last week after they went into administration.

Their manager, Avram Grant, was so incensed by the points penalty he suggested he would rest players in league games to save them for their FA Cup semi-final and World Cup commitments. Instead he decided they should be “ambassadors of football and show everyone that we have the spirit of the game”. Pompey being Pompey, however, there was one omission forced on Grant, with on-loan Lens forward Aruna Dindane conspicuous by his absence. “There is a clause in his contract that he cannot play again or we need to pay about £4m to his team,” said Grant.

The club’s administrators are now in discussions with UK property tycoon Rob Lloyd, who claimed yesterday he has an unnamed client who is looking at the club’s finances before deciding whether to make a bid. Fans are unlikely to be holding their breath.

Portsmouth (4-2-3-1): James; Mullins, Rocha (Basinas, 85), Hreidarsson, Belhadj; Mokoena (Kanu, 57), Wilson; Smith, O’Hara, Owusu-Abeyie (Webber, 82); Piquionne. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Diop, Brown, Finnan.

Hull City (4-4-2): Myhill; Mendy, Mouyokolo, McShane, Dawson (Garcia, 70); Fagan, Marney, Bullard, Kilbane; Folan, Vennegoor of Hesselink (Barmby, 66). Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Geovanni, Cooper, Olofinjana, Cairney.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Portsmouth James; Hull Myhill.

Man of the match: O’Hara.

Attendance: 16,513.

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