Pompey 3-1 Bolton
Sat 18-08-07, 12.45pm
A second home game in four days saw already struggling Bolton the visitors to Fratton on Saturday, with both sides going in search of their first victories of the season - although Pompey were still unbeaten, Bolton had lost both of their matches.
Injuries kept Sol Campbell, Lauren, Linvoy Primus and Niko Kranjcar out still, Pedro Mendes and Noe Pamarot joined them and Sulley Muntari was suspended, David Nugent dropped down to the bench. However Gary O'Neil returned to come in along with Djimi Traore, Matty Taylor, Richard Hughes and Kanu - for his first start of the season.
For the third match running at the start of this season Pompey fell behind, this time to a Nicolas Anelka goal, but we were ahead by half time thanks to Kanu and John Utaka. A late penalty from Matty Taylor saw Pompey to a 3-1 win.
A fairly even, if uneventful first 10 minutes or so suddenly burst into life on 13 minutes. Djimi Traore was found guilty of some sloppy work in midfield, which allowed El Hadji Diouf to slip in Nicolas Anelka who ran at Hermann Hreidarsson before taking an early shot to beat David James through his legs to put Bolton 1-0 up.
Seconds later Pompey were on the attack and Kanu rose to head home from a corner - that never should have been - but the referee, as so often happens when a wrong call is made 'evened things up' by disallowing it for what he perceived as a foul by Kanu.
We did not have to wait long though as in the 15th minute we were level. Anelka felt he was fouled - but nothing was given - and Sean Davis found Gary O`Neil who delivered early, as well as perfectly to leave Bolton exposed at the back. John Utaka with a deft touch knocked down to Kanu who smashed home, this time it did count, 1-1.
Bolton threatened the Pompey goal through Andranik, with his deflected effort only just missing the target.
After defending, Pompey quickly turned defence into attack with a speedy counter. Kanu turned the ball round the corner to Utaka who sped away from two defenders, running half the length of the field before coolly rounding Jussi Jaaskelainen to slot home for a fine 30th minute goal to make it 2-1.
Pompey were denied a third when our nemesis from last seasons encounter returned again - Jaaskelainen. With Nicky Hunt trying to see the ball out for a throw Utaka was having none of it and his persistence earned a free kick. This resulting free kick saw Benjani have a chance, only for him to be denied.
The way I saw it Bolton were lucky not to be reduced to 10 minutes before halftime. Gerald Cid seemed to foul Benjani when it was just the two of them chasing the ball. Nothing was given, so Bolton escaped, then they were soon level. Anelka, with a snap volley just missed the target with James struggling.
Utaka was proving a handful and his run into the Bolton box forced the first save of the 2nd half from Jaaskelainen. He could only parry it in front of him, but it was cleared to safety by the defence.
Pompey were mainly in control, but we did not look entirely comfortable at the back and on the hour the danger that Bolton could offer saw James forced into a flying save to deny Gary Speed.
The 73rd minute saw Harry Redknapp make his first change, Benjani came off and David Nugent came on, with him soon into the action. Having played his part in the build up he got his head to Utaka's cross but could not find the direction needed.
With time ebbing away Anelka had a shot deflected that looked as though it may have found its way into the net - but luckily it was only the side netting.
Martin Cranie was on in the 82nd minute for O'Neil, soon after a ball through looked as though it might have sent Nugent away, but he could not quite get the ball out from under his feet. The chance looked as though it might have gone, but he still found Utaka, but he could only last over.
As the match entered the final minutes the chance to wrap up the 3 points came. Kanu's run into the box saw him fouled by Cid. The tumble was more than a little theatrical but it was a foul. Taylor stepped up and sent Jaaskelainen the wrong way to make it 3-1 on 87 minutes - but would that prove his last goal for Pompey?
In injury time Kanu was taken off with Arnold Mvuemba coming on.
Pompey won this match with some difficulty at times, but generally we were in control for most of the match. The defence looked rocky at times, so the sooner - to at least be available - Sol Campbell and Linvoy Primus return the better.
John Utaka again showed just how important he will be this season, as he has it all. When he was put through on goal he never once looked like he would miss, not to mention the fact that there was ever a thought in my mind that he would be caught!
As for Bolton's ray of light Nicolas Anelka he also showed much quality, the sort of quality that more than proved why Harry Redknapp would want to sign him - and why he would not be out of place.
A third match running that we have fallen behind is a little worrying, but to again come from behind and avoid defeat, this time to win, shows the character we have built up. The worrying defensive lapses are a concern though.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Pompey 3 Kanu 15, John Utaka 30, Matty Taylor 87 (pen)
Bolton 1 Nicolas Anelka 13
Gary O'Neil (Martin Cranie 82)
Benjani (David Nugent 73)
Kanu (Arnold Mvuemba 90)
Substitutes Not Used
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