Nevland brace sinks Pompey
Errors costly for visitors as Cottagers claim the points
By Hayley Paterson. Last Updated: 31/01/09 6:14pm
Nevland: Bagged brace
Fulham substitute Erik Nevland capitalised on Portsmouth's defensive errors to strike twice and finish off Tony Adams' side.
The home side took the lead early on in the first half when Andy Johnson found himself in acres of space to coolly slot home past David James.
In an eventful match at Craven Cottage, Portsmouth slowly got into the game and should have equalised just before half time when Younes Kaboul's header cannoned off the bar - much to the relief of the flat-footed Mark Schwarzer.
Pompey came out aggressively in the second half and had a penalty appeal waved away when John Pantsil looked to have brought down David Nugent.
But the breakthrough came when an inspired substitution from Fulham boss Roy Hodgson saw Nevland come on for a confidence-stricken Bobby Zamora and the 31-year-old wasted no time firing home his only two chances of the game.
Pompey striker Nugent headed home from close range from a Jermaine Pennant free kick but the vital win stayed with Fulham.
Fulham introduced new loan signing Giles Barnes from Derby County on to the field as the tricky midfielder watched the must-win game from the stands.
However the game started scrappily until the 14th minute when Clint Dempsey's throughball provided Johnson beat the offside trap as Portsmouth captain Sylvain Distin was slow to react, and the striker slotted past James for the opener.
Pompey's response saw keeper Schwarzer tested for the first time in the game when former Fulham player Sean Davis drilled a low shot towards the bottom corner in the 18th minute.
On the half-hour Simon Davies cleverly picked out Johnson after Distin's desperate lash at the ball saw the striker again one-on-one with James but the Pompey keeper turned the shot away for a corner.
Schwarzer tipped over a looping effort from Davis seven minutes later as Pompey looked for an equaliser. They almost succeeded six minutes before the break when Kaboul rose unmarked to plant a header against the crossbar.
Pompey boss Adams reacted to the Fulham opener by taking off Kanu for fellow striker Nugent and the visitors went close to equalising straight away but Hermann Hreidarsson scuffed his free kick wide of the upright.
Portsmouth felt they should have had a penalty moments later when Pantsil appeared to foul Nugent on the edge of the six-yard box - but Wiley rejected their appeals.
Wiley was at the centre of more controversy again in the 51st minute when he rejected another penalty appeal after Pantsil collided with Crouch.
Distin then headed wide from close range as Portsmouth, for the first time in the game, began to dismantle Fulham's defence.
A below-par Bobby Zamora made way for Nevland in the 63rd minute, but moments later it was the away side who threatened once more when substitute John Utaka tried a speculative volley but pulled his effort wide.
Pantsil rescued Fulham in the 68th minute when Nugent burst down the right and laid it off to Peter Crouch. Just as the England striker was about to let fly, the Fulham defender came from nowhere to produce a superb block and deny Pompey a way back into the game.
But it was substitute Nevland who stole the headlines and killed off Portsmouth with two goals in nine minutes. Firstly he collected a pass from Davies as a confused Kaboul attempted to play offside on the halfway line. Nevland had just James to beat and made no mistake in the 71st minute.Nevland was on target again 10 minutes from time as he turned and fired home another pass from Davies before Nugent scored Pompey's consolation goal in the 84th minute.
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