Late Nugent Strike Denies Derby
Attendance: 14, 555
A late goal from David Nugent denied Derby County a much needed victory at Fratton Park but in the overall balance of play it couldn`t be denied that Portsmouth deserved something from the match. Steve Davies returned to the starting line-up for the first time this season and he slammed home a volley from the penalty spot to give his side the lead in a scrappy first half not helped but the conditions and both sides recent run of form. Ben Davies fired wide in the opening stages of the second period but it was Portsmouth who made most of the chances from there on in with Nugent twice having opportunities to level the scores before he crashed home from the edge of the area in the last minute of the ninety. Kanu nearly snatched all three points in injury time but Stephen Bywater denied him at full length and both sides had to settle for a point.
Nigel Clough made two changes the side who tasted defeat against Ipswich Town on Tuesday with Steve Davies returning to the starting line-up for the first time this season in place of Chris Porter and there was also a recall for Tomas Cywka in place of Alberto Bueno. The most interesting change though was a change in formation to 4-4-2 with the two new boys partnering each other in attack. Wet and blustery conditions didn`t help two sides lacking in confidence to play football and the opening exchanges were tight and a little scrappy as neither side were able to assert themselves in the early stages.
Ben Davies had the first effort of the match with a freekick from thirty-five yards but Jamie Ashdown was equal to it and saved comfortably at his near post. Portsmouth were getting on top of the match but the centreback pairing of Miles Addison and Shaun Barker were standing firm although Greg Halford had a fierce effort from the edge of the box turned over by Stephen Bywater after Gareth Roberts lost the ball to the on loan Wolves man. David Nugent was next to threaten when a hopeful ball forward released him and Bywater reacted well to touch his shot wide under pressure from Addison and John Brayford.
The Rams took the lead on thirty-four minutes with a neat move, Roberts picked out Cywka`s run down the left with a neat ball and the youngster found Davies on the penalty spot with a pinpoint cross and the returning striker slammed a volley past Ashdown to give the keeper no chance. Derby needed to be resolute at back as Portsmouth looked to step up the pressure to get back into the match before the break but they didn`t trouble Bywater in the closing stages and trailed at the whistle.
Steve Cotterill was sent to the stands for comments made to the referee during the break and his side were nearly two behind moments into the second half when Ben Davies flashed a volley just wide of the mark two minutes in. It was a rare foray forward for The Rams as Portsmouth upped their game and Roberts did well to block a Liam Lawrence effort just before the hour mark. Robbie Savage was introduced with half an hour to go to add an experienced head to the side as he came on for James Bailey and Nugent should really have levelled the scores moments later when Herman Hreidarsson's long throw into the box fell to him but he volleyed over from six yards out.
Derby were looking more solid at the back than in recent weeks and they needed to be as Portsmouth continued to up the pressure and Chris Porter was introduced in place of the tiring Steve Davies to give them some fresh legs up front. Nugent again had a good opening from Dave Kitson`s cross but he couldn`t find the target as the game approached the last ten minutes. The home side were throwing everything at The Rams leaving the opportunity for a counterattack but they couldn`t take advantage with some sloppy play despite finding themselves in a number of promising situations.
Brayford kept a cool head to nod a deep cross over his own bar when a slip could have meant an own goal or an easy tap-in for Nugent and just as they looked to have ridden the storm Derby found themselves pegged back in the final minute. A loose ball on the edge of the area found its way to Nugent and he crashed a fine finish past Bywater to level the scores. It nearly got worse in added time when Kanu got his head to a cross but Bywater denied him at full length to save a point for his side.
Portsmouth: Ashdown, De Laet, Mokoena, Halford, Hreidarsson, Mullins, Hogg, Ward (Kanu 69), Lawrence, Nugent, Kitson
Subs: Flahavan, Sonko, Rocha, Dickinson, Kilbey, Ciftci
Derby County: Bywater, Brayford, Barker, Addison, Roberts, Bailey (Savage 58), Green, B Davies, Pearson (Pringle 88), Cywka, S Davies (Porter 72)
Subs: Deeney, Bueno, Doyle