Fulham 0-2 Pompey
Sat 07-10-07, 4.10pm
After the incredible 7-4 victory over Reading at Fortress Fratton last week we were off on our travels today as we went to Fulham, looking to extend our unbeaten record - and we did after a 2-0 win.
Unsurprisingly Harry Redknapp named an unchanged squad, with the same 11 starting that started against Reading too.
After a goalless 1st half we upped the tempo and improved our passing game to make it back to back away win and move up to 5th in the league thanks to two goals in as many minutes early in the 2nd half from Benjani - who becomes the joint top goalscorer in the league - and Hermann Hreidarsson.
The games opening chance - via a rare mistake of late from Sean Davis - fell to Clint Dempsey but his snapshot was well saved by David James at the expense of a corner - then James was called into action again but he made an easy save from David Healy.
Sulley Muntari showed his power as he broke from midfield to break through. He got his shot in but it was saved by Kasey Keller for a corner. Eventually from this corner Muntari got in another shot - a powerful shot - from the edge of the area that was well saved again by Keller.
Former saints man Chris Baird had the next effort but again his effort, although a good one was straight at James who showed good safe hands to claim well.
Fulham were looking a little dangerous, but we dealt with the threat well whilst we played some nice football ourselves but lacked that cutting edge attacking wise, lacking that clinical nature that we showed last week against Reading.
Some half chances came and went for both sides as the half wore on, Niko Kranjcar put a disappointing effort into the Pompey crowd, Dempsey got in again but his header was wide - but he was offside anyway then the returning Papa Bouba Diop saw his shot from range watched over by Keller.
The chances for Pompey looked like coming from quick breaks, with one such break involving Benjani and John Utaka as Benjani released the Nigerian but his delivery was disappointing.
When Fulham's danger man Dempsey got in again, just ahead of Sol Campbell after a good Fulham break James again saved well.
From a Fulham corner we turned defence into attack as James claimed superbly well, his throw to Utaka saw him break from the half win line going all the way - we have seen this before! - showing his pace and power but his final shot was saved by Keller.
With half time approaching Fulham had two good chances, the first coming from good skill shown by Hameur Bouazza to beat Glen Johnson with his cross to Healy saved very well by James low down. A similar move soon after this time saw Healy the provider but Dempsey could not quite get the touch as it went across goal.
Pompey started with much more purpose in the 2nd half with a much better passing game saw and Campbell header over a Kranjcar corner.
Soon after, just 5 minutes into the half after a good passing move - Davis slipped Benjani in who showed better strength to hold off and turn Carlos Bocanegra - maybe too easily - and via the aid of a favourable deflection he finished to put us 1-0 up.
A couple of minutes later another very good passing move, mainly down the left hand side involving Hermann Hreidarsson and Kranjcar saw Kranjcar's clever reverse pass play in Hreidarsson who held off his marker to finish - again via the aid of a kind deflection which took the effort past Keller, 52 minutes in and it was 2-0. This move all started from great skill and composure at the back by Muntari.
Another fantastic break - which probably should have seen a third - saw Utaka away again. The man that kept up with him was Davis, the cross eventually came too him but he could not finish but my thinking was the ball was slightly behind him anyway? Fulham immediately broke away as a result but James again saved well to preserve our two-goal lead.
With 30 minutes to play Lawrie Sanchez made a triple change including 'Joe' Kamara coming on, but little change was made but James had to turn over a Bouazza free kick, then Dempsey shot wide with a good chance.
Pompey made another swift break and a good move saw Johnson pull back for Kranjcar who shot wide when he could and even should have done better, at least hit the target anyway.
We were looking comfortable but to give us a reminder the game was not over Bouazza again tested James, this effort from range - destined for the bottom corner - was turned round the post by the should be England no.1's fingertips for a corner.
From this resulting corner Utaka again led a break away, with players supporting him he decided to go alone, still getting a shot in but this was deflected away for a corner.
Harry Redknapp made his first change on 75 minutes as Bouba Diop was withdraw with what looked like a slight hamstring problem, replaced by Pedro Mendes who immediately got into the action.
We remained comfortable as the match moved into the final 10 minutes, with only a Bocanegra header that never really threatened the target.
86 minutes brought another change as Hreidarsson was taken off with Noe Pamarot coming on - then with the final chance another quick break saw Benjani get away and when he finally got through he could have made it 3-0 but Keller saved, but again he could have done better.
The 1st half did not really get going for Pompey - until late in the half - but we still looked fairly comfortable, certainly at the back, but were not as threatening coming forward as we could have been and our passing was not as crisp as usual. The 2nd half was different though we broke time after time with our pace and power always causing problems whilst again being comfortable at the back.
We might not have been at our best but we again picked up 3 points, which is the main thing. They always say that winning when not at your best it is a sign of a good team - which we very much are now!
Who would have thought we would see Hermann Hreidarsson score back to back goals or Benjani top the goalscorer charts? But both happened and all is looking good in the Pompey world.
Has the international break come at the right or wrong time? I suppose we will find out in a couple of weeks when we go to the JJB and the scene of one of our most fantastic away days ever. We just have to hope that all our players come back from this break okay.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Pompey 2 Benjani 50, Hermann Hreidarsson 52
Hermann Hreidarsson (Noe Pamarot 86)
Papa Bouba Diop (Pedro Mendes 75)
Substitutes Not Used
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