Norris rues five minutes of madness

112202-1700_WEST_HAM_SR_10/9/11'Action from  West Ham United vs Pompey at Upton Park.'Liam Lawrence fouls David Bentley and is red carded.''Picture:Steve Reid 112202-700
112202-1700_WEST_HAM_SR_10/9/11'Action from West Ham United vs Pompey at Upton Park.'Liam Lawrence fouls David Bentley and is red carded.''Picture:Steve Reid 112202-700
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Sol Campbell on his return to Fratton Park in December. Picture: Joe Pepler

Former Pompey skipper: I have one of football’s greatest minds

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They were five minutes of madness which robbed Pompey of the chance of claiming another promotion hopeful’s scalp.

Instead, Steve Cotterill’s men were left to reflect of what might have been after leaving Upton Park criminally empty handed.

For David Norris, Saturday’s encounter with West Ham hinged on two crucial second-half moments.

The first was an ugly challenge from Liam Lawrence on substitute David Bentley in the 67th minute which warranted a second yellow card and a subsequent dismissal for the Blues skipper.

The second occurred five minutes later when Jason Pearce was adjudged to have handled Henri Lansbury’s attempted cross.

Mark Noble stepped up to net the resulting penalty and give West Ham the lead.

Up until the spot-kick controversy, the match had been deadlocked at 2-2, with the visitors in fine form.

They had produced some excellent football to put the title favourites firmly on the back foot.

Pompey have already defeated last season’s play-off finalists Reading so far during the current campaign.

But, according to Norris, there wasn’t going to be a repeat following those key five minutes.

He said: ‘When it gets to 2-2, I’m looking around and I’m thinking “We’ve got them here”. I think we had the legs for it.

‘West Ham had gone a bit, they were getting frustrated. We had equalised and I felt this was our game to take on now.

‘Unfortunately, we got a bad penalty decision and a sending off and it killed it, really.

‘Fair play to the lads, they had played really well up until then.

‘I think the penalty decision was the big turning point, it was a poor decision. He (Lansbury) kicked it against his (Pearce) arms, there is nothing he can do about that.

‘It was very harsh and we felt pretty hard down by.

‘Also, when you are down to 10 men and go 3-2 down, it is always going to be difficult.

‘That changed everything then. We had to then chase the game even though we only had 10 men.

‘We were then far more open and they got the fourth. It was bitterly disappointing.

‘I think the ball was there for Liam to win.

‘He was 100-per-cent confident he was just going to nick it – but was milli-seconds late and picked up a second yellow.

‘If we could have gone 2-2 for another 10 minutes perhaps we could have got ourselves settled again.

‘As it was, West Ham went on to win – when we were the better side.’

There were plenty of eye-catching performances from Cotterill’s men across the team in defeat.

One of which came from Norris, who netted his second goal for the club.

Benjani Mwaruwari did his best to also stake a claim, heading in a follow up after there was uncertainty whether Norris’ far-post header had crossed the line.

Replays subsequently revealed it was the former Ipswich man who scored first, despite Winston Reid’s desperate attempt to hack the ball off the line.

And Norris was certainly not letting anyone wrestle it away from his grasp.

He added: ‘I think it was mine.

‘At the time I thought the defender didn’t deal with it and it had gone over the line.

‘I looked straight over to the linesman and he had given the goal before Benji got it. So I’ll take it.

‘It is disappointing when you still lose, though.

‘But I knew it was my goal and I am sticking to that.’