By Adam Carroll-Smith
STATS European Football Writer=
LONDON (SE) – Iain Dowie’s debut as Hull boss was ruined by two
goals in the last three minutes as bottom-placed Portsmouth came
from behind to win 3-2 at Fratton Park.
Dowie, who took over from Phil Brown earlier in the week, looked
to be heading for a vital three points when his team led 2-1
with time running out.
But Jamie O’Hara levelled with a free kick in the 88th minute
and a minute later a mistake in defence by Richard Garcia let in
former Arsenal veteran Kanu for the winner.
Hull’s defeat left them lodged in the bottom three and with only
eight matches left in which to preserve their Premier League
Dowie remained optimistic. "The result was bitterly
disappointing. To be leading 2-1 with a couple of minutes to go
and then lose is hard to take.
“We should have seen it out but O’Hara scored a great goal in
fairness to equalise and then we gave away the winner.
“Of course I think we can still get out of trouble. We are still
only three points off safety and there was enough about our
performance to encourage me to believe it can be done.
“Portsmouth played with gay abandon because their fate is all
but sealed and they had plenty of possession. But I don’t think
our goalkeeper Boaz Myhill had a save to make.”
Hull started brightly with Jan Vennegor of Hesselink hitting a
post before Dowie was out of his touchline seat in celebration
in the 27th minute.
Caleb Folan, restored to the side by Dowie, tried a shot from
distance which appeared to take more than one deflection before
beating fit-again Portsmouth goalkeeper David James.
Portsmouth’s equaliser came in the 37th minute when Hermann
Hreidarsson headed a centre back across goal for Tommy Smith to
turn in his first goal for the club from close range.
Hull lost inspirational captain Andy Dawson early in the second
half, Garcia replacing him.
Garcia was in the action immediately and after 73 minutes it was
his pass which put Folan away for his second of the afternoon.
Folan had previously scored once in 19 matches.
But as time ran out O’Hara scored and then Garcia’s blunder let
in Nadir Belhadj to set up Kanu for Dowie’s heartbreaker.
Portsmouth manager Avram Grant threatened to send out a weakened
team in protest at the docking of nine points by the Premier
League earlier in the week for going into administration.
Grant did make five changes without appearing to deliberately
worsen his line-up but his fury remained.
“I am not surprised by the result because there is great spirit
here at Portsmouth. We do not accept that we are relegated yet
but it is going to be hard.
“Many times this season we have come back like we did today and
anything can still happen. Unfortunately decisions taken off the
field have affected events on it.”