Portsmouth 4-1 Southampton: Steve Bone's match report from a day Blues fans got much, much more than they'd hoped for

To mark the 15th anniversary of Pompey’s 4-1 demolition derby win against Southampton at Fratton Park in 2005 we thought what better way to mark the occasion than a re-run of Steve Bone’s News match report.

By Steve Bone
Friday, 24th April 2020, 11:39 am
Updated Friday, 24th April 2020, 11:53 am
Yakubu celebrates scoring from the penalty spot with team-mates, from  left to right, Patrick Berger, Matthew Taylor and Gary O'Neil.  Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Yakubu celebrates scoring from the penalty spot with team-mates, from left to right, Patrick Berger, Matthew Taylor and Gary O'Neil. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

So sit back, let Boney’s words take you back to that memorable day, and enjoy…

Four-one. Say it. Then say it again – as many times as you like.

It may not have told the full story, and it’s a scoreline which may not have done justice to the superiority Pompey had from start to finish.

But still it sounded so, so sweet.

Forget those nights when Pompey won promotion and the first division title.

Forget the night they beat Bolton to go top of the Premiership.

Forget the Fratton wins over Manchester United and Liverpool and the previous season’s closely-fought south coast derby. For this one topped the lot.

All Pompey fans wanted was to win. A tense 1-0 triumph like the one 13 months before would have done.

But they got much more. Much, much more.

They got a thrashing of the team they loathe the most, Southampton.

Arjan De Zeeuw PICTURE:JONATHAN BRADY

They got safety for the Blues. And they got the certainty they would finish above their biggest rivals in the league ladder for the first time since 1960.

Oh, and they got the sight of Southampton stranded in bottom place in the Premiership standings.

Can there ever have been a more remarkable opening half hour at Fratton Park?

By the time 26 minutes were up, Pompey were 4-1 up.

A goal every five minutes – even if one of them was at the wrong end – had Fratton Park shaking like never before.

Harry Redknapp remarked a couple of days before the game, as he looked ahead to the reception he was in for, that some Pompey fans went to matches only to scream and shout.

Well they did here. Thanks for giving them some goals to scream and shout about, Harry.

If anyone in the stands was in any doubt about how much Pompey’s players wanted this win, it took 15 seconds for the doubt to be dispelled.

That was when Matt Taylor launched himself into the first meaty challenge of the afternoon – earning a free-kick against Pompey and a massive cheer from the home crowd.

It was a passion, on and off the pitch, that could easily have been over the top and easily have had the opposite effect of that required.

But it didn’t. It was just right.

In a way it was no surprise Pompey were ahead within three minutes.

Gary O’Neil, to have the sort of afternoon that must have made Redknapp wish he had given him more of a chance, was the architect with a high ball from the halfway line that had Lomana Lualua chasing down Claus Lundekvam.

He did him for pace – easily – drew Antti Niemi and was brought down as he went past him.

A pressure penalty it may have been but Yakubu Ayegbeni nonchalantly stroked it high past Niemi.

Fratton went wild – little knowing what was to come – and sang ‘Judas, what’s the score?’

Lualua had seen a 25-yarder tipped over by Niemi by the time it was 2-0.

Steve Stone was fouled by Nigel Quashie in the Milton End South Stand corner and when Patrik Berger delivered the perfect free-kick, the defence watched as Arjan De Zeeuw’s head thumped it in.

Just as the fans smelled a rout, Southampton got back into it with a goal from nowhere three minutes later.

Henri Camara looked to have little chance of even getting a shot in, let alone scoring, as he sprinted after a long ball in the inside-right channel.

But his pace put Dejan Stefanovic on the back foot, before De Zeeuw’s covering run failed to stop him getting in a shot, and it fizzed past Jamie Ashdown and into the far corner.

It could have got nervy had Southampton had time to sniff out an equaliser.

But Lualua denied them that luxury – and how.

First he joined two defenders in chasing Berger’s 50-yard ball over the top.

Niemi came rushing out of his area but failed to get anything on it and Lualua reacted fastest to curl the ball beautifully into the empty net before back flipping to the south stand to take the plaudits.

Four minutes later, as boss Alain Perrin prepared to bring on Diomansy Kamara with Lualua struggling with a hamstring injury, Yakubu and Stone ran at the now terrified defence.

The move seemed to have broken down – before Lualua hit a brilliant shot from just outside the box which Niemi watched go in off the post.

Job done, an hour early. Less then half an hour gone, 4-1.

Those not stunned into silence by what they were witnessing belted out the soundtrack to the afternoon – ‘Sha la la, la la, la la la, we’re gonna send the Scummers down...’.

In a way it was inevitable there would be no more goals.

Of course Fratton Park wanted more but cricket scores rarely happen at this level.

But the lack of further goals did nothing to take the gloss of an occasion no Pompey fan will ever forget as the Blues played safe, neat, comfortable football to snuff out any hope of a comeback.

It cast positive images like the sight of O’Neil strolling about the pitch as if he’d been playing for 10 years, like Matt Taylor, Richard Hughes, Steve Stone and many others, chasing every ball, every cause, until the bitter end.

Absolutely brilliant.