Portsmouth 3 Hull City 2: It's a cruel game, says Dowie

WHEN in charge of Crystal Palace, Iain Dowie coined a new word that became so popular it was eventually included in the Oxford Dictionary.

Well, after his first game with Hull City ended in the cruellest of defeats, the 45-year-old must now be hoping his new players can show the same 'bouncebackability' as those he once managed at Selhurst Park.

Certainly, the Tigers players cut dejected and forlorn figures at the final whistle after seeing a hard-earned 2-1 lead with just two minutes remaining on the clock, turn into a shattering defeat.

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The visitors' body language as they trooped from the field betrayed the story of a crazy 60 seconds in which goals from Jamie O'Hara and Kanu had earned the most unlikely of wins for rock-bottom Portsmouth.

Dowie tried to accentuate the positives in the immediate aftermath but there was no escaping the feeling that irreparable damage had been done to City's survival hopes.

There are, of course, eight games still to play and 24 points up for grabs but it is going to take an almighty effort in the coming week to erase the memory of this latest setback before Fulham arrive at the KC Stadium on Saturday.

Kevin Kilbane, however, is adamant the City players are capable of bouncing back to kick-start a mammoth push for survival.

He said: "Of course it was a big blow to lose. Once we scored the second goal, I felt there was only going to be one winner so to lose like that is heart-breaking for us.

"If you do concede like we did, you have to take a point and go forward. We certainly can't afford to be losing games from the winning position that we had because things like that can come back and bite you.

"But the manager said to us after the game that we have got a big week coming up with a huge home game and the sooner we start winning games the better for us.

"We have to get it out of our systems as soon as possible. Monday morning has to be a fresh week looking forward."

Hull started the game brightly and struck the post within three minutes through a header from Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

It was a major let-off for Pompey, though one they failed to heed as City deservedly took the lead on 27 minutes through Caleb Folan.

The Republic of Ireland striker, in from the cold after being deemed surplus to requirements by previous manager Phil Brown, had been a shock inclusion in the starting line-up.

But he justified Dowie's faith by diverting a shot from Craig Fagan past David James to put the visitors in front.

Unfortunately for Hull, it was a lead they were not destined to keep with Tommy Smith reacting smartly to clip a shot into the roof of the net after the visitors had failed to clear a quickly-taken corner by Quincy Owusu-Abeyie and Jamie O'Hara.

Smith's equaliser sparked Pompey's best spell of the game but the Tigers held firm and duly restored their advantage with 17 minutes remaining – courtesy of an inadvertent helping hand from the referee, Phil Dowd.

As the ball squirmed away from Richard Garcia midway inside the Portsmouth half, the official accidentally blocked its path to allow the Australian to reclaim possession and play a sublime pass to Folan.

The former Leeds United striker then showed great presence and strength to hold off two challenges before rolling a shot past David James.

With Portsmouth showing just why they were holding up the Premier League even before last week's nine-point deduction, Folan's double looked like being enough to earn a first away win since Fulham were beaten 1-0 at Craven Cottage on March 4, 2009.

Instead, a needless foul in the 88th minute by Jimmy Bullard on the edge of his own penalty area handed O'Hara the opportunity to curl an exquisite free-kick around the wall and beyond Boaz Myhill.

If the 1,200 or so City fans inside Fratton Park thought that was cruel, they were soon left cursing as Garcia inexplicably passed straight to Nadir Belhadj.

The left-back then scampered clear down the Hull right before pulling the ball back for substitute Kanu to finish from close range.

It was the second consecutive week that the Tigers had been beaten at the death when their performance had warranted some reward.

However, unlike the loss to Arsenal at the KC Stadium, this defeat felt to be much more damaging due to coming against a Portsmouth side that any team harbouring genuine hopes of staying up really should be taking points off.

That City didn't now means the pressure is really on and Dowie knows better than anyone that his new players must now show some bouncebackability or there really is only one way this season will end. In relegation.


Hero: Caleb Folan

The Hull striker didn't deserve to finish on the losing side after an impressive return to action, his second goal being a truly sublime effort that should have been enough to win the game.

Villain: Phil Dowd

In the minds of the Portsmouth players and supporters, at least, after the ball bounced off the official to allow Richard Garcia to play the pass that led to Folan's 73rd-minute goal. No doubt the official will have been relieved his intervention did not prove decisive.

Key moment:

89th minute: A terrible mistake by Richard Garcia handed possession to Nadir Belhadj, who scampered to the by-line and pulled the ball back for Kanu to score and break City's hearts.

Ref watch:

Phil Dowd: Could do nothing to get out of the way of the ball in the build-up to Folan's second and, overall, had a decent game. He tried to let play flow throughout and underlined his standing as one of the Premier League's best.


A truly heart-breaking end for City, who had done more than enough to claim all three points. The worry now is that the defeat at Fratton Park could have inflicted a fatal blow to the hopes of survival.

Quote of the day

You've only got one shirt – the Hull fans reaction to Pompey taking an age to find a fresh top for Ricardo Rocha after the referee had ordered him to change it.

Next game

Hull City v Fulham; Saturday March 27, 2010; Premier League.

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