Lawrence dismissal decisive in Hammers loss

Luke Varney played a part in Pompey's early opener
Luke Varney played a part in Pompey's early opener
Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Liam Lawrence was sent off as Pompey crashed to a 4-3 defeat at West Ham.

The Blues skipper was red carded for two poor challenges either side of half-time that gave referee Roger East little alternative but to brandish the red card with the game evenly-poised at 2-2.

Pompey had gone ahead early in the contest as Luke Varney’s effort was deflected past his own keeper by Hammers striker Carlton Cole.

But the lead lasted just a couple of minutes as Blues old-boy Matt Taylor netted the equaliser with a free-kick that also took a nick from the defensive wall to beat Jamie Ashdown.

That saw the teams reach the interval level, but the Hammers nudged ahead early in the second period as Henri Lansbury latched on to a loose ball and Jason Pearce’s last-ditch attempt at a block only wrong-footed Ashdown to put the London club ahead.

But Pompey were back in the game soon afterwards as Erik Huseklepp delivered a telling cross to find David Norris at the far post to head home, despite the attempts by Winston Reid to hack it off the line.

At 2-2 and with everything to play for, Lawrence, who has been booked for a nasty-looking tackle on Lansbury in the first half then clattered into David Bentley to see red.

And West Ham’s numerical advantage paid instant dividends - even though the linesman offered a helping hand as he flagged for a supposed handball from Pearce - when the ball struck him at close range - to allow Mark Noble to tuck home the penalty.

Cole made sure of West Ham’s first home win of the season as Pompey’s defence went missing as he planted a free header past Ashdown to seal the points.

But there was a late twist in the tale as former Blues striker Freddie Piquionne - who had only just come on as substitute - was sent off for a shove in the face to Greg Halford.

The Blues defender was then given the chance to score with the last kick of the game as Tal Ben Haim’s run into the box earned a penalty and Halford despatched it with ease.

But it was too little, too late for Pompey as the referee blew for full-time just moments afterwards.