Town dominate but fail to score
Ipswich Town went looking for their first league win of the season at a happy south coast hunting ground today.
George Burley's Blues, who were beaten in the First Division play-off's last May had won on their last four visits to Portsmouth and were going to continue the success at Fratton Park this afternoon.
The Blues had not lost a match at this venue for 32 years and have been undefeated in their last 12 matches against Portsmouth, home or away.
The Suffolk visitors were boosted by Tuesday night's 5-1 Worthington Cup first round, second leg home win over Exeter at Portman Road.
They were hoping it might inspire a return to the league goal standard in this game.
This season has begun with two goalless draws, at Grimsby and at home to Bury.
This comes on top of the Blues failure to score in their last two games of the old season, in the two legged semi-final play-off with Charlton.
David Johnson, the top marksman for last term, had not scored in his last six matches. He had happy memories of the last visit to Fratton Park, a 1-0 win in April. Johnson missed a penalty in that match but still scored the winning goal.
Town were unchanged for today's game and they had brought with them a good following of fans from Suffolk.
Blow by blow
Town, playing in their new away strip of orange and blue began attacking the Milton Road end where their supporters were gathered.
At the other end, the Fratton End, were massed the most noisy of the Portsmouth fans. Before the game, Ipswich boss George Burley paid a compliment to them. He said: "Last season when we played here they made more noise than any fans have made when we have visited the grounds in this Division."
Seconds after kick-off a sloppy back pass by Town skipper Mowbray almost let in Aloisi and soon after a Simpson long ball sent Aloisi away only for Mowbray and Venus to deal well with the situation.
Johnson made a cracking diagonal run for Town. He fell in the box as Awford got near him. It was never a penalty and referee Wilkes knew that full well. After seven minutes Igoe centred well from the right for Portsmouth, but Mowbray coolly relieved the pressure for his side.
Dyer went down as he challenged McLoughlin in midfield. The England B international got up to shake off what looked like a sore knee. Johnson then crossed well for Town and Thomson had to clear for a corner.
Portsmouth had looked the liveliest in the minutes after kick-off but Town, playing with their 4-4-2 formation against the team operating a 5-3-2, were getting stronger. Dyer made a great run and soon after the ball was cleared for Stockwell to chip onto the crossbar.
It was indeed a great let off for Portsmouth and then the home skipper Whitbread became the first booking of the match as he chopped down Dyer in full flight.
In the 17th minute Flahavan had to pull off a brilliant save to keep Portsmouth level. Dyer began the move on the right and Johnson took up the play. He crossed into the path of Holland and the two-goal Town top marksman struck with a firm right foot shot that Flahavan launched himself to his left to keep out.
The sun continued to shine down on Fratton Park and it was Town who were producing the vast majority of the bright football on this August afternoon.
In the 25th minute Holland sent a header just over the bar following a cross by Clapham and two minutes later there was an even bigger let off for Portsmouth.
Petta picked up a loose ball in midfield and made a run for goal. Valchos, Portsmouth's Greek midfield player, brought the Dutchman down in full flight. Venus struck the free-kick from 25 yards out and saw his effort cannon back off the post.
The home side were so relieved to be on level terms as this second Town effort hit the woodwork. Venus's strike following on to Stockwell's attempt earlier that hit the crossbar.
There was more panic in the Portsmouth defence when Flahavan raced from his goal to go out towards Petta who had made a run down the left. Petta outstripped the keeper and then crossed. The goal was exposed if a Town player could get on to it, but Thomson was on hand to bring the ball away for the home side.
Stockwell fed Mathie and the striker was off target with his shot. Then, following a corner on the left, Mowbray steamed up field to go just off target with a header. Town were so much on top and Portsmouth were at pains to deal with the constant pressure being exerted by the visitors from Suffolk.
Petta got his second booking of the season when he fouled Igoe. Play continued with Ipswich the more forceful and dominant team by far. The home fans were just relieved that their side were still on level terms. Mathie came deep to touch the ball as he ran up field to pick out Dyer. The England B international, such an influential figure in midfield, then found Johnson. But the referee blew for an off-side decision.
The Portsmouth fans at the Fratton End kept up their constant chanting with the renown "Pompey Chimes" always to the fore. However, it was the visiting supporters at the other end who had every reason to be more impressed with their team.
In the 42nd minute Venus cracked in a free kick from the left which took a deflection and almost beat Flahavan.
Portsmouth's sweeper Awford then tried to set up something with a long ball pumped forward. Like so many of the home attempts at setting up a dangerous attack, it came to nothing.
Town's movement both on the ball and off the ball had been so superior to that of Portsmouth in this first half.
Mowbray lumped forward a long ball aimed at Johnson. But Thomson was on hand to clear. Igoe then gave the ball away to Dyer and it ended with Taricco attempting a cross. The Argentinian's effort was a poor one though with his centre dropping behind the goal.
Town went off at the interval cursing their luck. They had outplayed Portsmouth for much of this first half. The Blues had hit the woodwork twice and seen Flahavan make a brilliant save. Other chances had been missed. Town should have been well ahead. But as it was they were still level at 0-0.
Half-time: Portsmouth 0 Ipswich 0
The second half began with Petta sending over a cross from the left for Town that was too high. In the 47th minute Wright had to go into action in the Town goal. Simpson centred from the left for Portsmouth and Claridge got in a shot that the England Under 21 keeper went to his left to save well.
Clapham sent Johnson away for Town but the visiting number nine centre went behind the goal amongst Portsmouth fans who, at the start of this second half, had gone in to what was a none stop chorus of "Alan Ball's Blue and White Army".
Valchos was booked for a foul on Petta and then in the 51st minute Stockwell, scorer of a goal in the 5-1 win at Exeter on Tuesday, went close to opening the scoring.
Venus, sent a free kick out to Petta on the left and from his cross the ball fell at the feet of Stockwell. The long serving midfield man let fly with a right foot shot that went just wide of the upright.
Portsmouth broke up field quickly and Taricco dealt well with Aloisi the Australian looked dangerous.
Then, in the 54th minute there was great danger for Portsmouth again. Petta sent over a corner from the right and firstly Mowbray saw a close range effort saved by Flahavan. The ball came out and Venus got in a header that was cleared off the line by Thomson.
Town continued to be denied an opening goal in this game. But they kept battling away with their fans well behind them at the Milton Road end of the ground.
Both sides were sticking to their first half formations and Petta tried to break forward in the 55th minute down the left flank only to be stopped in his tracks by McLoughlin.
Igoe became the third Portsmouth player to be booked, his offence was a foul on Petta.
Awford cleared away well with his head after a cross by Taricco following good work by Stockwell and then Aloisi broke up field for Portsmouth only for Holland to track back well, win the ball and bring it back up field.
Petta crossed well but Simpson headed away and then, in the 63rd minute, Clapham got in a shot that Mathie tried to get a touch on to and guide in.
Mathie just couldn't get enough on the ball and it flew wide of the post.
Venus was booked as he stopped Aloisi in his tracks and then in the 66th minute Portsmouth brought on substitute Robinson for Awford. Two minutes later Ipswich introduced Naylor for Mathie. There was another substitution in the 69th minute when the home side brought on Kyzerides for Claridge.
Mowbray did well to slide the ball back to his keeper Wright as danger threatened, and then the Town skipper Mowbray almost gave away a penalty, but his foul on Aloisi was adjudged to be just outside the area.
Booked twice already this season, Mowbray was not cautioned this time. From the resultant free-kick Portsmouth came close to opening the scoring. Durnin let fly and Wright had to touch over the bar.
Town should have had this match sown up a long time before, but it was well and truly in the melting pot as it went in to the closing stages. Dyer was stopped in his tracks by Simpson as he tried to break and then Petta came deep to get the ball. The Dutchman dwelt too long on it though and was robbed by McLoughlin.
Portsmouth forced a corner and McLoughlin centred for Wright to clutch the ball to his chest.
In the 76th minute Stockwell crossed from the right and ended with Holland sending an effort narrowly wide. Then Petta made ground down the left to feed Johnson. The striker turned to try his luck with an angled effort but it was blocked by Whitbread. Petta was running at the Portsmouth defence again soon after. This time the Dutchman sent a low effort into the dangerzone and Johnson got a good connection on it but could not quite guide the ball in.
Play then switched to the other end and Durnin got in a shot that Wright dropped to his knees to save smartly.
Town boss Burley and coach Houston kept coming out of the dug out to urge on their side. Taricco centred from the right and Flahavan got up to it well. At the other end Mowbray gave away a corner with a wayward back header.
McLoughlin went over to take it and from his centre Aloisi headed back from the far post only for Holland to clear away for Town.
Stockwell broke for the visitors and Thomson got on the end of the midfield man's cross. These were anxious moments now for both sides with the game drawing to its end.
With three minutes to go McLoughlin went forward on a great run, shaking off the attentions of Dyer as he went. A free-kick was eventually earned on the left and from Simpson's centre Town substitute striker Naylor was back to send a diving header for a corner. Simpson took this corner from the right but it came to nothing.
Just before the end Holland fed Dyer down the right and from his cross Portsmouth were at pains to clear the ball away.
Robinson then broke down the left for the home team and Aloisi received the ball with his back to goal. He tried to turn past Venus but the Town man was in commanding form.
The fourth official held up the card indicating that there was two minutes of time to be added on. Neither side could make any impression in that time.
Portsmouth 0, Ipswich Town 0