Date: 25th February 2007 at 5:48pm
Written by:

Rovers put to bed the heartache of Thursday with a comprehensive performance to parallel Portsmouth`s opening day win.

Mark Hughes made four notable changes. Benni McCarthy, Ryan Nelsen, Zurab Khizanishvili and David Dunn were all dropped.

Rovers dominated from the start as Shabani Nonda raced onto a misguided header from Sol Campbell to lift the ball over an advancing David James from a tight angle. Just 57 seconds were on the clock and it was just the start that Rovers needed.

The early goal allowed the home side to command the play and relax. However, Rovers could have doubled their lead on 18 minutes. A cross from Brett Emerton was met by Matt Derbyshire but his header was straight into the midriff of David James.

Harry Redknapp has being making quite a clamour recently waxing lyrical about David James` talents. His ‘keeper did him no favours today though. He was again questionable in his actions for Rovers` second on 25 minutes, which was a sucker-punch to Portsmouth.

Tresor Lomana Lua Lua had gone agonizingly close for Portsmouth before Rovers advanced and found a second. A quick throw from David Bentley released Derbyshire who raced to the by-line and hit a tepid low cross into the six yard box. James came sprawling out and tangled with Noe Pamorot allowing the ball to squirm away and invitingly into the path of Nonda who dispatched the chance with ease.

Former Rover, Andrew Cole had a chance to pull a goal back but wasted it in typical fashion. At the other end the hosts had a strong shout for a penalty turned away after Derbyshire was clumsily bundled off the ball with the goal gaping.

Rovers ended the half firmly in control.

Mark Hughes` men emerged from the tunnel early for the second half looking confident but there was no sign of Chris Samba. He was replaced by Zurab Khizanishvili.

Rovers immediately put the game beyond doubt. On 50 minutes a sweeping counter-attack generated by the dogged determination, strength and pace of Derbyshire. He held off Linvoy Primus before charging towards goal. A rolled ball into the path of Nonda put the Congolese forward in on goal with a great chance for the hat-trick, however he in turn presented Stephen Warnock with an even easier chance that he gratefully lashed home.

It was a wonderful sweeping move with some crisp passing and direct running.

Nonda did get another very presentable chance to complete his hat-trick in the form of a penalty. Again James was questionable in his actions as he came out second best with Gamst who he tripped to concede the penalty.

Nonda casually stepped up in that nonchalant manner he has but his precisely placed kick was diverted wide for a corner by James; who appeared to have edged off his line prematurely. The corner amounted to nothing.

Rovers continued to attack a disorganised Portsmouth side that looked beaten. Chances came and were carelessly squandered.

The game was a perfect mirror image of the game at Fratton Park way back in August but with Rovers in complete control. The only thing missing were red cards and Andrew Cole was lucky to escape such punishment. His flailing elbow poleaxed Aaron Mokoena but the referee must have missed it.

Nwankwo Kanu, a second half substitute, summed up Portsmouth`s efforts late on with a desperate and poorly executed long distance effort on goal. It was devoid of any spark, direction or purpose.

Dunn and Jason Roberts had been brought on and Dunn could and should have added a fourth at the end. Roberts pull back found Dunn unmarked in the area but he recklessly blazed over.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon for Rovers as they brushed aside a weary Portsmouth side with consummate ease.


Rovers need to address the poor penalty taking that has been on show this season. I`m thinking the lads should adopt the, ‘hit it hard down the middle`, approach.

Bentley put in another good performance but he should look to release the ball a tad earlier at times, especially when team mates are in good positions.

I`m still not convinced what everyone sees in Jason Roberts. He is strong and direct but his touch is poor and he brings little goal-scoring threat to games with wek and wayward efforts.

Player Ratings

Friedel 6
Routine work for the American.

Warnock 8
Excellent energy going forward and in defence. His reading of the game was exceptional today and he took his goal brilliantly.

Emerton 6
Another typically assured display from Brett.

Samba 6
Looked solid again but was forced off at half-time.

Henchoz 7
His experience made a difference.

Bentley 7
Always involved and showed some quick thinking in attack.

Gamst 6
Like Bentley, always involved but could afford to play within himself today.

Tugay 7
Spraying the ball here there and everywhere, just how he likes it.

Mokoena 7
A better display from the Axe.

Derbyshire 8
Heavily involed in two of the goals and asked the Portsmouth defence plenty of questions.

Nonda 8
A constant threat in attack and took both goals well. Should have scored the penalty and a one on one.

Khizanishvili 7
Assured and solid defending.

Roberts 6
Works hard but produces little.
Didn’t do a great deal and should have scored late on.


13 Replies to “Rovers 3.v.0 Portsmouth”

  • An excellent win and it could/should have been more. Still a real confidence booster. Im pleased that Shabani has picked up a couple more.

  • Well i guess im gonna eat my words, the guy can finish afterall, would of been nice to get the hattrick and dunny on the score sheet. Was Samba injured by any chance and what about the admiral, i dont really see a reason why he was dropped

  • I’d agree should have been more and was a great result against a usually good team. Let’s see more of this from Nonda and then he can earn the deal he so wants. I’d assume the Admiral was just being rested with the midweek Cup tie in mind. With none of the players really “being dropped” just rested.

  • Great performance considering the amount of games played in the last 3 weeks. A lot of credit has to go to the coaching staff for the fitness work. Cant believe how fit the and fresh the guys looked today.As for Nonda ,does anyone know how much this agreed price is with Roma? Got a sneaking suspicion he would be a whole lot better next season. Look at Drogba now.Cant be easy adjusting to the pace and the power of the premiership.

  • My man of the match was Matty Derbyshire. Didnt score but the way he plays the game is a joy to behold. When you look at the lazy prima donnas in the england squad and look at him you notice the difference in attitude.

  • As for God by the way… he was rested. As was McCarthy. In fairness Henchoz did sterling work and Samba really does look the business. I think the long rest caused Pompey to look off the pace. Revenge is oh so sweet.

  • Oh and Im gonna stick up for Jason Roberts. He looked a lot sharper yesterday and gave us presence. He;s getting there but work to be done.

  • You could be right del, I’m still undecided on Nonda I have to admit but if he keeps scoring he’ll earn that move (I’d say at somewhere around £1million min £2million max?) It is amazing how fresh we were totally agree. You’d think that it was Portsmouth that had played all the games recently and not vice versa.

  • That’s the beauty of having a kid play for you that wants to play, people like Derbs just want to play football and appreciate it, more so as he came into the game at a later age than some. I have high hopes for Derbs (as most know!) so if he keeps playing like he is then he’ll be in the England squad down the line… and not just the under-21’s. As for JR I’m still convinced he’ll do the business, it’s been a stop start season but he’s a quality footballer.

  • I’m not totally sure but I do know that the difference between 6th and 10 would be a lot, each position you finish higher earns you a couple of hundred thousand extra I think but more importantly sixth would get us into Europe and this will certainly mean extra money and a better chance of attracting quality players if Sparky wants them.

Your Comment