Safety inches closer
How does 14th sound? Well Pompey are sat there right now, 6 points off the relegation trapdoor with games ticking by, and with 37 points on the board to boot.
Paul Hart surprised no-one except Pennant by keeping faith with Kaboul, Johnson came back in, but it was further upfield alongside the midfield where he re-entered the fray, a posistion he is starting to acclimatise to.
The only other change was Sean Davis in place of Richard Hughes in the centre, Gekas evaporating from the bench in the process.
Matt Taylor recieved polite applause when his name was called out, only a few boos rang out, makes me laugh when a player is forced to leave a club he loves and is then booed on a return!
Pompey certainly didn't look in defensive mood as they came out of the blocks at Bolton, we were pinning the Trotters back and Kaboul was particularly evident as a marauding wing-back, Spurs fans may not believe it but the big man looked as good as any top flight wide man, bombing forward and beating Taylor with ease on countless occasion and firing in a few decent crosses.
Not to be outdone Englands number 2 was enjoying his midfield role once more, he fired in one effort after nutmegging his man that Jaaskelainen parried away, and then repeated the feat a few minutes later, Jaaskelainen again getting behind the ball well and blocking his fierce shot.
Bolton lost a key man after only 12 minutes, Ricardo gardner going down under a heavy Davis challenge and limping off in some discomfort.
On the half hour came arguably Bolton's best chance of the game, James saving well low to his right from Elmander, but straight up to the other end and Johnson did what we have now achieved in 7 of the last 8 matches, you guessed it, smashed one against a post, but credit to Jaaskelainen once more as he got fingertips to it first in what was becoming a one man show for Bolton.
Johnson would have had a hat-trick on another day but the long serving Finn was on top form.
Mullins was next to try his luck, but his effort was scuffed wide.
Remember the purple patch Crouch was in just a couple of weeks ago, well that seemed a distant memory as he recieved one right on his forehead, but inexplicably knocked it back rather than go for goal, chance gone.
5 minutes injury time was signalled (the ref obviously oblivious to my bursting bladder) and Nugent decided to curl one, but his effort just crept past the post with Jaaskelainen watching hopelessly on.
Half-time and it had been all Pompey, but 0-0 it remained, but the chat was all about how much better we looked this week, just the goals were needed to cap it off.
Second half and Bolton looked a bit more ambitious, they were pushing a bit harder but were coming up against a Pompey defence reminiscent of last season.
Kaboul had Pompey's first effort of the half, heading over from a corner with Crouch looking better placed to recieve it.
Pompey continued in vain to break through, but our efforts were either scuffed or lacked power, it was getting to be squirty bum time.
On the hour and Nicky Hunt joined an exclusive club, that is he got booked without actually kicking a ball, ref Dowd getting fed up of his passing on instructions from the sidelines.
Johnson and Kaboul had switched positions it appeared, and the Frenchman was having a great game as a wide man, leaving Pennant to look on from the bench.
Kanu came on for Nugent after 70 odd minutes and was soon joined by Belhadj as Kranjcar was caught by a late tackle from McCann after the ball had gone, the Croat was stretchered off and didn't look too clever.
Another foray down the right from Kaboul and Pompey had another corner, Belhadj whipped it in near post and the ball nestled nicely in the back off the Fratton end net, who the hell touched it wasn't clear, it may have gone straight in as Belhadj did a lap of honour, Kanu was claiming it, and McCann and Jaaskelainen both looked like they may have poked it home, no matter though, Pompey had the lead they deserved, and the crowd was going wild.
In recent weeks this has been the cue for Pompey to defend on the edge of their 18 yard area, but not today, Crouch fired one of his scissor specials over, and Kaboul almost bulldozed his way through.
Belhadj picked one up in his own half and decided his best option was to stretch his legs and burst all the way into the Bolton box only to fire over with his right boot.
Matt Taylor put a free-kick into Alverstone road with Bolton's last real effort at goal, and as we slipped into 6 minutes of injury time, one of the funniest sights I have seen for a while, Hart and Kidd hed been gesticulating for about 5 minutes for someone to go down so Pennant could come on, with the refs back turned, Hreidarsson collapsed theatrically to the ground as a signal for Kaboul, and the Frenchman dropped to the deck to recieve treatment, quality thespianism.
Pompey were still breaking forward and both Johnson and Kanu had shots beaten away, but the sound we wanted most rang out, and Dowd's whistle sliced the air and Pompey had clinched a great win.
On the other hand you had Sean Davis, he saw more tackles than Jodie Marsh before she turned to the dark side, and we looked so much better with him in the side, split the award on this one.
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