Sunday, 6 November 2011

Cotterill's Fratton Park return ends in disaster

Erik Huseklepp is mobbed by his Portsmouth team-mates after scoring
Huseklepp celebrates a brace with his team mates

Portsmouth 3 (Huseklepp, 45, 84, Kitson, 76)

Nottingham Forest 0

Nottingham Forest’s impressive form under new manager Steve Cotterill was brought to an abrupt end at Fratton Park on Saturday as Portsmouth bagged three goals to send their ex-manager a stern message.

Although the Reds dominated for long periods they were unable to convert any of their opportunities and the home side struck just before the break – one of Cotterill’s last signings, Erik Huseklepp breaking the deadlock.

In an end-to-end second period both teams came close before Pompey made their pressure count when Dave Kitson nodded home from close range following a well-delivered corner.

And six minutes from time Huseklepp secured the points for the hosts scoring his second goal of the game and condemning his former boss to a second defeat in five.

The Reds looked dangerous from the opening moments of the game and USA frontman Robbie Findley could have given the away side an early lead – but his effort fizzed wide from 25-yards.

Forest continued to threaten and missed a golden opportunity to take the lead when Chris Gunter found space to cross from the right – Reds starlet Lewis McGugan got on the end of the cross and took a shot in the area but failed to control the ball properly and Pompey keeper Stephen Henderson quickly pounced to clear the danger.

The home side did begin to come into the game after the twenty-five minute mark when Kitson’s shot was deflected off Guy Moussi - However the ball skewed just wide for a corner.

The Reds might even have snatched a goal when McGugan hit a signature free kick towards Henderson’s goal moments later - but his long-range shot was tipped over the crossbar well by the Irishman.

Yet it was Portsmouth who took the lead against the run of play - former West Ham man Hayden Mullins drilled a free-kick towards goal which crashed off the corner of the crossbar and post before falling to Norwegian international Huseklepp who curled the ball into the top corner.

Forest shot-stopper Lee Camp was then called on to stop the home side doubling their lead straight away – Pompey striker Luke Varney squared the ball to David Norris whose shot was well saved by the Northern Ireland number one.

The Reds then came close to an equaliser when the on-form Marcus Tudgay found Findley in the box - he turned well to fire a shot towards the top corner producing a fantastic save from Henderson.

And Gunter could have put the away side on level terms when a clearance fell to him in the box – but the Welshman got too much on his effort and sent the ball high and over the crossbar for a goal kick.

With little time remaining the home side converted their second goal of the game from their first corner of the second period. Kitson rising high at the near post following a great delivery to convert past a helpless Camp and double his side’s lead.

With nine minutes remaining the Reds brought on striker David McGoldrick to replace Joel Lynch in hope of forcing a late equaliser.

However the hosts were rampant and put the result beyond all doubt six minutes from time as Norris found space to tee up Huseklepp who turned in his second and Portsmouth’s third to seal the victory.

The Reds now have the international break to regroup before they play Ipswich at the City Ground on Saturday November 19th. Kick-off is at 3pm.

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