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Pompey finish off at home with win
Published : 01 May 2010 17:13:00
Portsmouth ended a season to forget at Fratton Park with a display to remember as they beat Wolves 3-1 in their final Premier League home game. The south-coast club have lurched from one financial crisis to another which eventually resulted in administration and the docking of nine points and, ultimately, relegation. However while manager Avram Grant admits he is unsure whether he will still be at the club in the Championship next season following their FA Cup final date with Chelsea, the beleaguered Pompey faithful at least had something to cheer about as Wolves were comfortably beaten on Saturday. Aruna Dindane - whose French parent club Lens have agreed to let him play in the FA Cup final without triggering an appearance-related clause - fired the home side ahead on 20 minutes, before Kevin Doyle bundled home an equaliser. However, Pompey went into half-time ahead following John Utaka's 20-yard effort and a well-crafted third from Michael Brown after 67 minutes sealed victory. It was a bright start by the home side as Utaka's near-post header was blocked. Portsmouth, perhaps now playing with more freedom, continued to press. There was, though, danger on 15 minutes when David James had to turn a fine 25-yard strike away from Wolves midfielder David Jones, after the ball had been tapped on from a free-kick. Wolves went close again when, after a fumble by the England keeper had given away a corner, Doyle flicked the ball towards the far post, where Jody Craddock was only inches away from connecting. Portsmouth went up the other end and took the lead on 21 minutes. Brown floated over a deep free-kick, and Dindane was left unmarked to plant a header past Marcus Hahnemann. Kevin-Prince Boateng forced a good stop from the American with a fierce drive from just outside the box. The Wolves defence backed off Frederic Piquionne, and again Hahnemann was tested as he dived to palm away the striker's low, 20-yard effort. Jones whipped a dangerous ball right across the Pompey six-yard box from a right-wing free-kick, but Ronald Zubar just could not get a touch. Wolves were enjoying a good spell, with James alert to block a snap-shot from Geoffrey Mujangi Bia, making his first start on loan from RSC Charleroi. The England keeper, however, was then left exposed and even two great reaction saves could not stop an equaliser on 35 minutes. Again Jones' dead-ball delivery caused the problem, as Zubar headed goalwards from point-blank range, which James kept out before then also denying Doyle's follow-up. However, with the Pompey defenders slow to react, Doyle was able to bundle the ball past James for his eighth goal of the season. Pompey, though, were back in front within five minutes as Utaka spun in from the right to fire past Hahnemann from 20 yards. James saved well from Doyle after coming out to close down the angle after Bia had put a clever angled ball into the left side of the penalty area. Both sides made changes for the start of the second half. Bia was given a deserved rest, replaced by Chris Iwelumo while Pompey brought on Joel Ward for Aaron Mokoena and Tommy Smith for Dindane. On 54 minutes, James touched Doyle's scissor-kick over the bar before Wolves substitute Sylvan Ebanks-Blake somehow rolled the ball wide from 12 yards after Doyle's shot had come back off the post. Portsmouth were forced into another change when Richard Hughes limped off down the tunnel and had to be replaced by Papa Bouba Diop. On 67 minutes, Portsmouth wrapped things up with a well-crafted third goal. Piquionne broke down the right, and his cross was nodded down to Brown by Smith, and the midfielder send a low strike into the far corner. Pompey broke quickly again through Boateng, who played in Smith, but Hahnemann made a decent saving with his legs. James, though, still had to be alert when the ball dropped to Foley in the six-yard box, blocking the close-range shot with his chest before also denying Doyle.