Pompey 2 - Hull City 3

Brett Pitman celebrates scoring his second goal at Oldham. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pitman: Return of elder statesmen can boost Pompey results

Those left to shiver in Frogmore Road may not have appreciated their fate.

But at least those present in the lengthy ticket queues right up until half-time were not subjected to yet more Pompey heartache.

Not that the Blues performed badly against Hull in the Fratton Park confines.

Rather they should have beaten Nigel Pearson's side comfortably – arguably even before the half-time whistle.

The hosts were the better side, dominated possession, had the game's outstanding players and were, at times, a joy to watch.

As it was, they finished with precisely nothing.

Instead, the Tigers snuck away into the dead of the night with a 3-2 victory inside their swag bag.

And for those fans fortunate enough to be seated within the ground clutching a match ticket, that was the real agony.

Poor defending and even worse finishing decided the outcome of Pompey's first home match of 2011.

Forget Balram Chainrai phone calls, dismiss the paper-thin squad and ignore the contract sagas involving Michael Brown and Richard Hughes.

For once, yesterday's scoreline was not influenced by any of the above.

The Blues were, on this rare occasion, the architects of their own downfall.

And this time there was to be no dramatic comeback as witnessed at Leeds barely a week ago.

Granted, Steve Cotterill's men are proving to be something of the great entertainers of the Championship.

Yet they cannot afford to keep haemorrhaging goals, especially when dominating matches.

Another three last night – Jimmy Bullard, Matty Fryatt and Nick Barmby – took the tally to nine shipped in the past three matches.

At the other end, a Liam Lawrence penalty and Greg Halford header were the replies.

However, there should have been many, many, many more as Cotterill's men showed embarrassing profligacy in front of goal.

Even in stoppage-time, Dave Kitson, David Nugent and substitute Ibrahima Sonko had headers saved.

Joel Ward also fired in an acrobatic volley which Brad Guzan dealt with as Hull enjoyed a charmed life.

As it was, they clung on by their fingertips for a win they barely deserved.

Nonetheless, it can be argued Pompey deserved everything that came their way for such poor defending and appalling finishing.

A great injustice – and haven't Pompey fans become used to them over recent years.

Matters had already begun in sombre mood following the death of ex-director Jim Sloan on Saturday night at the age of 88.

Pompey chose not to hold a minute's silence to the surprise of many fans, who held the popular Sloan in high regard during his long period with the club from 1976 to 1992.

By the end of the 90 minutes, the mood was just as downbeat as the fans who did manage to get in the ground walked away still shaking their heads at the failure to record a first home win since the end of October.

The return of Lawrence and Kitson was always going to ensure Pompey possessed a stronger side than the one that lined up against Watford two days earlier.

The Blues also sprang a surprise by naming Halford in the side, despite the loanee scheduled to serve a ban following his red card at Vicarage Road.

Yet the decision to appeal that dismissal means any punishment is put on hold, allowing Halford to continue in the side. Elsewhere, Ricardo Rocha was back in the team having recovered from the tight hamstring which kept him on the bench on New Year's Day.

He replaced Ibrahima Sonko in the centre of the defence, partnering Aaron Mokoena, with Ward and Nadir Ciftci also making way.

A strong line-up, unquestionably, and Cotterill's men started strongly.

They had their first sniff of goal in the eighth minute when John Utaka wriggled free down the left.

The winger clipped in a dangerous cross which Nugent could only head over, although he was forced to lean back to meet it. Moments later, Utaka won a free-kick just in front of the penalty area after Kamil Zayatte bundled him over.

Lawrence took the set-piece and fired an effort which clipped the top of the bar, with Guzan beaten.

Pompey continued to threaten the visitors' goal and on 12 minutes Kanu missed a great opportunity.

Nugent swung in a cross from the right and the veteran striker was presented with a free header from seven yards out which he could direct only wide.

Next up was Lawrence, who scuffed his shot from inside the penalty area after being fed by Kitson.

At the other end, Hull were left cursing their misfortune when Jimmy Bullard struck the underside of the bar with a free-kick.

Yet the Tigers did take the lead on 21 minutes through controversial circumstances.

Halford appeared to stand his ground as Cameron Stewart tried to go past him and the midfielder tumbled to the ground in the box.

Referee Rob Shoebridge had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, much to the disbelief of most people in the crowd, with Bullard making no mistake with the resulting penalty.

Pompey hit back immediately and Kitson teed up Lawrence for a great opportunity, only for the Republic of Ireland international to completely miss his kick with his left foot.

The half closed with Halford swinging in a cross from the right which picked out the unmarked Utaka, who planted his header wide.

Utaka then produced a bit of magic down the left to clip a ball into the six-yard box – yet Hermann Hreidarsson headed over. Pompey finally did level, however, on 57 minutes through Lawrence's penalty.

Nugent sparked the move, sliding the ball into the path of Lawrence as he burst down the right-hand side of the penalty area.

The pass appeared to be over hit but Anthony Gerrard elected to slide in, sending Lawrence flying, and the midfielder picked himself up to net.

Cotterill's men continued to dominate but, out of the blue, they found themselves behind once again with three goals in two minutes.

Firstly, Hull's 1.2m signing Matty Fryatt climbed off the bench to net a debut goal on 69 minutes when he was allowed to swivel inside the box and finish.

Just three minute later, fellow substitute Nicky Barmby also produced a smart finish with his back to goal to stun the home fans.

Pompey at least pulled one back in the 76th minute when Halford headed home Lawrence's right-wing corner.

Yet, despite more late pressure, that equaliser would never arrive.

And three points, which rightfully should have been Pompey's, were allowed to carelessly slip from their grasp.