Fortunate Fulham Inflict Opening Day Defeat

Last updated : 16 August 2009 By Jim Bonner
A lucky deflected goal from Bobby Zamora was enough to give Fulham an opneing day victory at Fratton Park and already the doom and gloom has set amongst the Pompey fans.

Let's start with the positives for yesterday's defeat, shall we?

The effort was there, from most of the players anyway. Aaron Mokoena had a good debut and even Hayden Mullins earned plaudits for his performance. Frederic Piquionne put in a good shift and looked useful despite the lack of chances and Younes Kaboul looked good going forward.

The defence was solid for the majority of the game barring one glaring error from Marc Wilson that Andy Johnson should have punished, but other than that he looked accomplished alongside Sylvain Distin and lets not forget he's only 21.

There was nothing anyone could do about the goal. Dempsey's shot took a wicked deflection off of Zamora and the ball seemed to float into the bottom corner of our net.

At least the former West Ham man was good enough to give the ball straight back to us when our over-enthusiastic ball boy went onto the pitch and gave the ball back to David James before it left the field of play.

There was also some good news as Sulaiman Al-Fahim did turn up as he promised, even if he was late. Hopefully this will mean that his takeover is still going ahead contrary to the belief of the man sitting next to him and the Pompey manager.

That is where the positives end and the negatives begin, however.

The tribute to Bobby Robson prior to the game was embarrassing as it missed the fact that he began his career as a player and a manager at Fulham!

As for the game, I don't think we did enough to win and I can count the good chances we had on one hand. And when those opportunities did arrive they were squandered in terrible fashion, with David Nugent's late blaze over the bar the worst of them.

John Utaka just as well not have played as he contributed nothing whilst Papa Bouba Diop didn't perform all that well either. Also, as the only creative player in the midfield, Niko Kranjcar needs to get more involved and put more effort in.

He shirked most of the challenges yesterday and his set-pieces and overall play was poor. This may be because he was stuck out on the left where he is less effective but he really did struggle to make an impact and his combination play with Nadir Belhadj was effectively zero.

There wasn't enough movement from the team as a whole. We were too static and simply didn't cause the Fulham defence enough problems a home team should do.

I can't really criticise Paul Hart for leaving his substitutions late as he doesn't really have a squad to work with. The introduction of Kanu added a little more attacking impetus but I do ask why Utaka wasn't taken off earlier.

Overall, this is a disappointing result and there is already pressure to get at least a draw at Birmingham on Wednesday because not many will fancy us taking anything from Arsenal or Man City in the following games, meaning we could be cut adrift at the bottom of the table.

Hart knows that he needs to add to the squad. Another defender and another two midfielders and strikers are required if we're to lose the flops that are Nugent and Utaka.

But most importantly, the takeover needs to be complete before the end of the month.

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 6 - Nothing to do bar one good save from Zamora.

Younes Kaboul: 7 - All of our good work down the right came from him.

Sylvain Distin: 7 - Led like a captain should.

Marc Wilson: 6 - Solid bar one major error.

Nadir Belhadj: 6 - Worked hard with little support.

John Utaka: 4 - Wasn't in the game at all.

Papa Bouba Diop: 5 - Should have done better.

Aaron Mokoena: 6 - Got stuck in.

Hayden Mullins: 6 - Good performance.

Niko Kranjcar: 5 - Ineffective and poor set-pieces.

Federic Piquionne: 6 - Gave 100% effort.


Asmir Begovic

Joel Ward

Matt Ritchie

Richard Hughes

Angelos Basinas

Kanu (Bouba Diop 76): N/A - Added slightly more attacking threat.

David Nugent (Utaka 87): N/A - Missed a great late chance.