Portsmouth 0-0 Leeds United – Stalemate At The Seaside!By: Ciaran Roche | February 25th, 2012
Leeds United made the long trip to Portsmouth as Neil Warnock took charge of his first game as manager of the Whites. There wasn’t wholesale changes to the side as Michael Brown came in to replace Andros Townsend who terminated his loan with the club this week in order to join Birmingham City for the rest of the season. Aidan White took up his place on the right wing in an unfamiliar position for the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international while Ross McCormack was on the left wing with Robert Snodgrass playing in a more central role. The Scotland international also took the captain’s armband from Andy Lonergan and will remain captain for the rest of the season.
It wasn’t the best of games on the south coast as two clubs in desperate need of three points for two very different reasons went into battle. Portsmouth have been dropped deep into relegation trouble after going into administration for the second time in their recent history while Warnock’s men needed the points to maintain their slim chances of finishing the season in a play off place.
It was the home side who started the match on top as United struggled to get a foothold in the game and Andy Lonergan was called upon a number of times early on whilst Alex Bruce had to leave the game in the early stages after picking up an injury. It was an injury that meant Steve Bruce had a wasted journey after making the trip to Portsmouth to see his son in action. Leigh Bromby came on to replace Bruce at right back and the enforced change was to be United’s only substitution of the game.
Former West Ham midfielder Hayden Mullins demonstrated his ability to strike a ball when his fierce strike was deflected for a corner as the home side continued to look dangerous, particularly from set-pieces. However Leeds always looked capable of troubling Portsmouth who seem to have a dodgy defence of their own and Stephen Henderson had to be on guard when Aidan White saw his left footed strike repelled by the Pompey shot stopper. Just before half time, Ireland international Darren O’Dea was lucky to get away with a blatant handball as the referee left the field pondering whether he had made the right decision not to award the home side with a spot kick.
During the second half the Whites looked the more likely to win the game and top scorer Ross McCormack thought he had put Leeds into the lead when his shot hit the bar and bounced over the line but it was not to be as the goal wasn’t given. Captain Snodgrass did bundle the ball home but his effort was ruled out for offside. Both McCormack and boss Warnock were convinced the ball was over the line but perhaps the decision made up for the fact that Portsmouth were not given a penalty in the first period. Leeds were really starting to dominate proceedings and Luciano Becchio should have put his side in front when he went through on goal. Adam Clayton delivered a nice pass to the Argentinian but Henderson was in no mood to give up his clean sheet and saved with his feet. It was those feet that denied United again moments later when substitute Leigh Bromby had a chance to put the away side ahead. As it turned out that was to be United’s last real chance but Lonergan still had some work to do in order to ensure United didn’t fall behind when George Thorne unleashed a shot destined for the net until the former Preston goalkeeper got his hands to it. Portsmouth did have the ball in the net before the game was over but it was the home sides turn to have a goal disallowed after one of Greg Halford’s trademark long throws went straight into the net having evaded everybody, much to the relief of Lonergan and United.
Despite a draw being a fair result, United could have snatched all three points after squandering the best chances of the game. Nevertheless a clean sheet away from home is not a bad start for new gaffer Neil Warnock who now has another week on the training ground before the televised clash with Southampton at Elland Road next weekend.