Portsmouth 1-0 Bolton

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Portsmouth 1-0 Bolton

Post  Admin on Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:17 am

A late strike from substitute Kanu, a faint touch from a Nadir Belhadj corner, gave Portsmouth a valuable win.

Minutes after replacing David Nugent, Kanu stole in between Jlloyd Samuel and goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to steer Belhadj's left-footed corner home.

Portsmouth had dominated the first half, with Glen Johnson, in an unusual midfield role, going close to breaking the deadlock on three occasions.

Bolton's best chance, a Johan Elmander strike, was well saved by David James.

But the west Yorkshire club, who began the match in the more secure position of the two teams, rarely looked interested in going for all three points.

Portsmouth, on the other hand, would have been plunged into uncertainty again with another defeat. But this well-deserved win for Paul Hart's men more or less dispels the threat of relegation.

It was an interesting first half for 24-year-old England international Johnson, whose return from suspension saw him find a series of attacking opportunities.

The full-back was elevated from his usual defensive role to a position on the right of a five-man midfield, with Peter Crouch the loan man up front.

As I've said many times before, Younes Kaboul is not so good when plonked straight into the team, but after a run he seems pretty good


With Younes Kaboul playing an industrious role directly behind him, Johnson frequently found himself free to drift inside and even towards the left side of the field as Bolton's defenders struggled to track his movements.

Having already featured in a number of his team's attacks, Johnson collected a ball in the centre circle on 26 minutes and surged upfield, firing in a strong shot from the edge of the area which forced a good save from Jaaskelainen.

Not long afterwards he really should have scored when Nico Kranjcar, skipping down the left, evaded the attentions of two Bolton defenders to release a telling cross.

Johnson was unmarked when receiving the ball, but side-footed his shot weakly straight at the goalkeeper.

If that was Johnson's best chance, he came closest to scoring when a loose ball dropped kindly at his feet inside the area. His shot was struck across the goal and Jaaskelainen's outstretched leap was enough to touch the ball onto the post.

There was still time for Sean Davis to scuff a shot from close range before half-time came, and for all Portsmouth's endeavours it was frustrating for the home fans that the deadlock remained unbroken.

Bolton had produced some disjointed football, perhaps unsettled by the early loss of Ricardo Gardner with a left ankle problem.

The man who replaced him, Fabrice Muamba, was virtually anonymous and there was only one serious chance for Bolton all half - when Elmander broke free on a counter-attack to force James into a fine save to his right.

Bolton provided much stiffer resistance in the second half, but continued to offer limited threat going forward.

As a result, the match entered a tedious phase with referee Phil Dowd among those kept most occupied. In an unusual development he found himself booking the unused Bolton substitute Nicky Hunt as the off-field player spoke to team-mates from the touchline.

Portsmouth switched to 4-4-2 as Kanu replaced David Nugent, but they lost the creative impetus of Kranjcar when he was stretchered off the field after being fouled by Gavin McCann.

Ironically, the enforced substitution - which saw Belhadj join the fray - paid instant dividends as moments later the Algerian's wickedly inswinging corner delivered from the right-hand corner flag resulted in the game's only goal.

Bolton will have to reflect on the woeful defending that allowed Kanu to score, however. First McCann missed his header, then Samuel and Jaaskelainen - the latter making his only error of the game - were left rooted to the spot as Kanu nudged the ball into the net.

Portsmouth: James, Kaboul, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Johnson, Davis, Mullins, Nugent, Kranjcar, Crouch.

Subs: Begovic, Pennant, Pamarot, Utaka, Hughes, Kanu, Belhadj.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Andrew O'Brien, Cahill, Samuel, Basham, McCann, Gardner, Kevin Davies, Elmander, Taylor.

Subs: Al Habsi, Hunt, Muamba, Smolarek, Puygrenier, Makukula, Cohen.


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