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MATCH REPORT

Posted on 2 October 2006  - 12:00

Three welcome points were deposited in our Premiership account after Portsmouth were overcome by a 2-1 scoreline at the Lane.

Three welcome points were deposited in our Premiership account after Portsmouth were overcome by a 2-1 scoreline at the Lane.Danny Murphy's first goal for the Club, topped up by Jermain Defoe's penalty proved enough to collect full reward, although the visitors did pull a goal back before the break.

There was a first home start for Hossam Ghaly on an afternoon of welcome returns. Ledley King was back after missing against Slavia Prague, while Dimitar Berbatov partnered Defoe in attack after missing five games since coming back injured from international duty.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto resumed left-back duties in place of Lee Young-Pyo, while Robbie Keane, Mido and Calum Davenport were in reserve after starting on Thursday.

Inside the first minute the combination of Berbatov and Defoe was giving Sol Campbell serious concerns and it led to Defoe flighting a cross onto the head of the Bulgarian. David James did well to block his downward header and a route to the rebound looked to have been cut off before the ball was nicked home smartly by the instep of Murphy's boot.

It was an early goal, booster and confidence charger the team have longed for in recent games - a tonic we hoped would enjoy a few refills.

There was a dash of class applied on 13 minutes when Murphy picked up the ball from Jermaine Jenas and slipped a couple of markers before hitting a sweetly struck curler in the direction of the top corner. James did very well to tip around the post.

There was really only one team in as the half progressed, the midfield machine was purring nicely, ticking over and winning plenty of ball - Ghaly playing no small part in this.

Then on 33 minutes a Pedro Mendes challenge on Didier Zokora resulted in referee Mr Foy pointing to the spot. With the clock showing 34 minutes, Defoe stepped forward and struck his kick low to James' right and into the bottom corner of the net.

Five minutes later there was a reduction of the deficit when a Gary O'Neil cross from the right was headed high into the net by Kanu.

There was change at half-time in the shape of Tom Huddlestone replacing Pascal Chimbonda. Ghaly switched to right back, with Jenas slotting in ahead of him and Huddlestone partnering Zokoro in the centre of midfield.

With the game going from end to end, but without end-product, Harry Redknapp introduced striker Benjani and left sider Matthew Taylor. Not too happy about being substituted, Sean Davis plonked himself down on our bench...

A little of the craft and guile had gone out of our game following the interval, perhaps displaying a hint of nerves after Pompey getting one back.

Taylor made a crucial interception on 69 minutes to deny Berbatov after he was set free by Zokora, before a James athletically diverted a Jenas hit on goal.

Keane was added to the mix with 18 minutes remaining in place of a tiring Berbatov, but with so little time left it was always likely to be something f a rearguard action, with Michael Dawson pretty awesome, as usual, leaping slam-dunk - hands free - style to clear his lines time and again.

He was later caught in a collision with Tom Huddlestone and forced to sit out the final ten minutes. He looked more than a little groggy on his departure from the pitch.

Jenas was presented with a half-decent chance by Assou-Ekotto in the closing stages, but his shooting action went all askew, before Paul Robinson came to the rescue - saving a Lomana Lua Lua header from a Benjani cross. Jenas then shot over at the other end after a trademark lengthy run.

It was academic in the end though as it was a case of three points won and a few points proved.