Saturday, 20 October 2007

P.A. Report on Pompey-Wigan match

clipped from
Picture Glen Johnson runs at the
Wigan defence.

Wigan 0 Portsmouth 2

By Mark Staniforth, PA Sport

Click here for full match stats

Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth secured their fourth successive win at the JJB
Stadium but it was as far from another 11-goal thriller as any Barclays Premier
League match is ever likely to get.

Benjani Mwaruwari and Glen Johnson fired home in the last 10 minutes of a forgettable encounter as Wigan boss Chris Hutchings saw his side stretch their goalless streak beyond five hours.

Redknapp will not mind for a moment that his side's 7-4 epic against Reading
last month was consigned to distant memory by a match in which his side
simply had to show dogged determination to claim the points.

But for Hutchings it could soon be time to press the panic button after a dismal
display which showed just how far the Latics have fallen since the dizzy early
season days when they found themselves top of the league.

Things had looked promising for two minutes. Michael Brown flung a long
free-kick into the box which was knocked across goal by Andreas Granqvist and Scharner shaved the woodwork with a diving header.

But it was not hard to see why Wigan had such a poor recent record in front of
goal with Portsmouth looking the liveliest in the final third, Benjani denied a
clear chance after being flagged marginally offside.

Pompey's record in the goalscoring department might have been distinctly
better than the Latics' but it became increasingly hard to see quite how they had scored seven against Reading as the minutes trudged by.

Niko Kranjcar's long-range effort flashed well wide for Pompey and a flick
header in the box from Wigan's Antoine Sibierski also sailed the wrong side
of the post as both sets of strikers struggled to assert themselves.

In an all too brief interlude of Wigan pressure, Marcus Bent - their most recent
scorer against Reading last month - burst down the right flank in the 39th
minute but his shot from a tight angle found the side netting.

Nigerian Julius Aghahowa provided some brief entertainment after replacing
Sibierski in the 51st minute. Before even touching the ball he had clattered Sol Campbell and earned a yellow card from referee Peter Walton.

Then two minutes later when he did get his first touch he was flattened by it - Kranjcar's free-kick clattering into the Wigan striker who needed a number of
minutes to rediscover his poise.

Pompey pressed through Kranjcar, who played in Benjani for a shot which
deflected high over the bar, before Campbell came close to connecting with the Croatian's resulting corner in front of goal.

Then Sulley Muntari blazed a long-range free-kick inches wide as Pompey
continued to speckle a dismal encounter with the best chances and look most
likely to break the stalemate.

That moment duly arrived nine minutes from time when Benjani converted the simplest of chances to grab his seventh goal of the season as he poked
home a perfect Muntari cross.

Aghahowa tried his best to make a belated good impression when he cut into
the right side of the visitors' box only to be hustled off his shot by Sylvain Distin
in the Pompey defence.

But Johnson wrapped up victory when he was allowed to roam unchallenged
across the Latics penalty box before drilling a low shot past Chris Kirkland into
the corner of the net.

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