Tottenham-Portsmouth: Nugent's First Goal Proves Point for Pompey
It was certainly a long time coming, but David Nugent's first goal in the Premier League came at a particularly fitting time for Portsmouth.
In a highly-charged game from well before kick-off, Portsmouth traveled to White Hart Lane to face a Tottenham Hotspur side who were, at the time, bottom of the table.
It was, for certain, a match where pride was an important issue.
For the first time, Arsenal legend Tony Adams would be leading out a team as a manager at the home of the fiercest rivals from his playing career.
On the other side, former Pompey manager Harry Redknappy would face up against his old club for the first time since leaving his second stint at Portsmouth.
With the arrest and charges of several Spurs fans for chanting abuse at former player and Pompey captain Sol Campbell, Spurs fans were ready to bite back.
With the acrimonious departure from Portsmouth of star striker Jermain Defoe to rejoin his former manager at Spurs, as well as his statements that he never wanted to leave Tottenham to begin with, Pompey supporters were angry.
It was a game with everyone there having a point to prove. The teams wanted to show they were better than their league position dictated. Managers wanted to show that, too.
And players wanted to show what they were made of.
And while it was Jermain Defoe who nabbed all of the headlines today for scoring against his former employers less than two weeks after leaving Fratton Park, an important character was being left in the shadow of the small England striker.
Another oft-forgotten Portsmouth striker, David Nugent.
Nugent was coming up against the former manager who had signed him for the first time since his departure, and he had, perhaps, more of a point to prove that anyone else.
Signed from Preston North End by Harry Redknapp in the summer of 2006 for a reported £6 million, hopes for Nugent were very high. But almost immediately after the preseason matches ended, so did the young English striker's playing time.
Reports began surfacing before the end of the transfer window that Redknapp was already looking to sell the striker, so unimpressed with him was he.
It didn't make much sense, in truth. While Nugent was completely untested in the Premier League at that time, he had been in particularly good form for Preston before hand, and had earned his first full-England cap. He celebrated his England debut with a very easy goal as well.
But as any Portsmouth supporter will tell you, Harry Redknapp's mood with players was always changing, and he was notorious for bringing in players that he would never give a chance to.
And it seemed Nugent would be one of them.
In his entire first season at Portsmouth, Harry Redknapp would only find it fitting to give his £6 million striker three Premier League starts. He made several other appearances during the season, but they were almost always bit-part cameos in the last minutes of matches.
Struggling with injury and frustrated with Redknapp, it was difficult to see into Nugent's future.
With Redknapp having left and Tony Adams now in charge, he would earn his opportunity in an odd way. Portsmouth's midfield has been weakened thanks to injuries, the selling of a key player in Lassana Diarra, and the failure of winger John Utaka to shine.
In a rather odd move, Tony Adams has asked David Nugent to play on the right wing. And believe it or not, he's not looked bad in the few games he has had in that position.
Undoubtedly pleased to have earned a start against Redknapp's Tottenham and anxious to prove a point to the manager who nearly killed his career, Nugent was lively throughout the match.
In the first half, however, he was given a glorious chance to put Portsmouth ahead, and all of the supporters in the stand were stunned when he fired directly at Tottenham 'keeper Gomes from practically three yards out.
Though we all sighed with frustration, we continued to sing his name anyway.
And after half-time, when Nugent finally found the back of the net in the Premier League for the first time, Portsmouth fans were jubilant.
But not more so than David Nugent.
As he ran over to our supporters in the corner of the stand, the excitement and joy at his accomplishment was incredibly clear on his face. It was so clear how much it meant to him.
Despite only earning a draw in the end and with Jermain Defoe certainly stealing all of the headlines, it was David Nugent's day.
Despite his big-money price tag and his England ambitions, Defoe was largely kept overshadowed by the converted right-winger.
With his point proven and having tasted his first Premier League goal, it will be up to Nugent to take full advantage of his future opportunities at Portsmouth.
And although none of us may have expect it, perhaps David Nugent is up to the task of pushing the club forward.
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