Date:Saturday November 1 2008
Woodwork Helps Wet Wigan Win
Luck was not on Portsmouth's side this afternoon as Wigan somehow managed to come away from Fratton Park with all 3 points.
Tony Adams made 3 changes to the team that lost 1-0 at Liverpool on Wednesday, with Sol Campbell and Glen Johnson returning from injury to replace Younes Kaboul and Noe Pamarot respectively. Jermain Defoe was also restored to the first-team in favour of John Utaka as Tony Adams reverted back to the more familiar 4-4-2 formation. For Wigan, Paul Scharner and Kevin Kilbane made way for Titus Bramble and Jason Koumas.
Despite being in the bottom three, Wigan always had the ability to test Portsmouth. In Amr Zaki they had the league's top goal-scorer, and midfielders Antonio Valencia and Wilson Palacios have been lined up for January moves to teams in the top 4.
Wigan started the better of the teams in the pouring rain, with the only noticeable event of the opening encounters being the drains overflowing, resulting in many drenched fans in the Fratton End being moved to drier seats. The Latics went close early on, with Zaki's header just missing the far corner of the goal.
Pompey soon took the initiative however, and Peter Crouch almost gave the home side the lead when his header sailed over Kirkland, only to bounce back off of the bar, with Diop making a mess of the rebound.
Diop didn't have to wait long for his turn to hit the bar, with his powerful header beating everyone but Wilson Palacios, who was stood just behind the line, but still managed to clear via the woodwork, with the whole ball not crossing the line.
Titus Bramble was lucky to stay on the pitch after taking out Armand Traore on the edge of the area. The French winger did incredibly well to get to Diarra's ball before the Wigan man, only to be clattered into by the bulky centre-back. The free-kick came to nothing, Jermain Defoe firing the ball at the wall, somewhere in the general direction of Bramble...
This period of pressure for Portsmouth came to nothing, as Wigan stuck on the break just before half-time, with Titus Bramble doing what he does best, falling over like a sack of spuds. This time it wasn`t a slip however, as he was caught in the area by an outstretched Papa Bouba Diop, who has nothing going for him at the moment. Amr Zaki easily despatched the penalty, re-enforcing the belief that Wigan will do well to make his loan permanent in the summer.
As the half-time whistle went, thousands of fans headed for the shelter, and Tony Adams would have been wondering just how his team weren't leading.
Portsmouth came out for the second half desperate to pull back the deficit, a point echoed my Adams' first substitution of the day, with Niko Kranjcar replacing the pacy Armand Traore. The move almost paid off straight away, with Kranjcar's deflected free kick cleared off of the line by Wilson Palacios yet again.
There was a rare moment of luck for Tony Adams' men when Chris Kirkland bizarrely picked up the ball from a back pass. After several minutes of moaning by the Wigan defence, Defoe's effort was cleared off of the line yet again, this time by Heskey and Melchiot.
The home fans were outraged at Amr Zaki midway through the second half after the Wigan striker stayed down after a perfectly good Lassana Diarra challenge. The Egyptian forward looked more like Amir Kahn than Amr Zaki, he went down so fast.
Pompey kept piling on the pressure, and the home team struck the crossbar twice within the space of 30 seconds. Glen Johnson's header hit the woodwork from a Diarra corner, and Crouch sent another looping header onto the same crossbar from the resulting cross. It was starting to look like it wasn't Portsmouth's day.
Kranjcar finally found the breakthrough after 82 minutes, half-volleying through the crowd at the back post after Wigan failed to clear Belhadj's left wing cross.
Portsmouth kept pushing forward, leaving themselves open at the back. After Distin had galloped up the field to start an attack, Valencia was left unmarked at the back post, only to see David James head his attempted chip clear.
Wigan grabbed the winner after yet another attack, with Heskey slotting home after Cattermole's through ball. Wigan will no doubt be ecstatic with the win, having been on the back foot for the majority of the game, although many Portsmouth fans were of the opinion that the Wigan players made "Emile" of the celebration.
Next up at Fratton is high-flying Hull City, although Portsmouth fans have to endure away trips to Sunderland and West Ham first. Let's hope Tony Adams can get a few wins under his belt before the all important visit of AC Milan on the 27th November.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
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Date:Saturday November 1 2008
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