PORTSMOUTH 2 WEST BROMWICH ALBION 2
Tony Mowbray has promised to bring West Bromwich Albion back to the Premier League better and stronger after near-enough admitting defeat in his bid to keep the club up.
The Baggies produced an impressive display at Portsmouth but the result did little for their survival prospects. They are seven points from safety with a poor goal difference and only six games left to play.
Mowbray may not admit it yet, but privately he is already preparing for next season’s assault on the Championship. And the Albion manager intends to stick by his philosophies and keep as many players as he can.
“The disappointment is that if we drop out of this league we are going to lose a little bit of the progress we’ve made,” he said.
“Whereas I feel if we could stay in this league it would be so much better next year because we would be able to add one or two quality players and go to places like Portsmouth and let them know they’re in a real match.
“I think we’ll give ourselves a better chance if we try to play our way through this period and if the worst comes to the worst we will keep going in the Championship.
“Hopefully we will do the same as we did last year and play our way out of the Championship.
“Maybe we can come back with a good crop of players who have been through this experience this year and know what it takes and hopefully a coach, if he’s still here,
who understands the league better and understands the quality of the opposition and knows what it takes to win games.
“We will be strong next year. We carry no debt and we don’t need to sell any players so if we keep people like Greening, Koren, Morrison, Fortune and Olsson, who competed well against a strong Portsmouth team, I believe we will be strong in the Championship.”
Both sides showed no shortage of confidence early on but were perhaps let down by quality in the final third.
Kaboul made the most of Albion’s weaknesses on the left-hand side on 33 minutes. After Pennant gave Robinson the slip, Kaboul pounced on to the pass.
He hurdled Greening’s desperate challenge, darted into the area and speared a stunning 15-yard shot into the roof of Carson’s goal.
Portsmouth had James to thank for a 41st minute save after Fortune opened up the home side’s defence to release Zuiverloon. The Dutch defender’s shot was well saved by James. The rebound came back for Brunt. He backhealed the ball back to Zuiverloon, whose dipping cross was again cleared by James as Koren waited to pounce.
Albion equalised in the 48th minute. Koren played in Brunt whose shot was parried by James. Mullins played the rebound back to James who was caught between collecting the ball and kicking it clear. His half-clearance fell for Morrison whose instinctive shot was kept out by the England keeper but only as far as Greening, who smashed the ball into the net.
Albion went ahead for the first time just after the hour. Greening was brought down on the edge of the area and Brunt’s 30-yard free-kick appeared to take a touch against Dorrans and beat James. But then Pompey were awarded a free-kick and Kranjcar’s effort sailed into the top corner to give Carson no hope.
Chris Wood, aged just 17, was given his first-ever taste of Premier League football on 75 minutes when he replaced James Morrison, while Carl Hoefkens came on for the impressive Gianni Zuiverloon who was forced off with an apparent hamstring injury.
Scorers: Kaboul (33) 1-0, Greening (48) 1-1, Brunt (62) 1-2, Kranjcar (65) 2-2.
PORTSMOUTH (4-5-1): James, Kaboul, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Pennant (Gekas), Hughes, Mullins, Kranjcar, Nugent (Belhadj, 63), Crouch. Substitutes: Begovic, Pamarot, Utaka, Kanu, Gekas, Basinas.
ALBION: (4-4-2): Carson, Zuiverloon, Meite, Olsson, Robinson, Morrison (Wood, 75), Dorrans, Koren, Brunt, Greening, Fortune. Substitures: Kiely, Menseguez, Borja, Simpson.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).