Fulham Fall To Benjani Winner

Last updated : 24 July 2007 By Jim Bonner
Pompey are one game away from some pre-season silverware after defeating Fulham 1-0 courtesy of a Benjani strike just before half time.

Apologies for the late article but I had the small matter of a graduation to attend this morning meaning that not only did I have to sit through over an hour of boring announcements in a silly gown but I also missed the live coverage of the game, so I had to watch the recorded match this evening.

Harry opted against the touted 3-5-2 system for the usual 4-4-2 with Gary O'Neil making his first start in pre-season and Hriedarsson playing at left back in favour of Stefanovic, meaning Campbell was given the armband. Two ex-Pompey players lined up for Fulham: Alexei Smertin and Diomansy Kamara.

The first half was pretty evenly balanced with David Nugent failing to take an early opportunity through on goal thanks to a poor first touch from O'Neil's pass. The closest Fulham came to breaking the deadlock was when Clint Dempsey lost his marker in the box but his free header was directed straight at David James.

Pompey took the lead on the 45th minute when Niko Kranjcar's weak shot was half-blocked by Zat Knight in the box but he failed to clear properly and gifted Benjani possession and the Zimbabwe striker produced a cool finish past Warner for the opener.

Harry made changes after the break by bringing Benjani, O'Neil, Mendes and Lauren off and bringing on LuaLua, Taylor, Davis and Pamarot respectively. Davis went off early with injury and was replaced by Mvuemba meaning John Utaka still has to wait for his first appearance in a Pompey shirt.

The second half was a scrappy affair with both sides making your typical pre-season mistakes in the humid air of Hong Kong, resulting in both sides gifting the other openings which weren't taken advantage of. Fulham called Jamo into action a couple of times whilst some dodgy defending from them almost gave us the opportunity to add to our goal tally.

Muntari and Taylor had late long range shots, with Taylor's hitting the post before the ref blew the final whistle and confirmed our place in the final where we will play Liverpool who beat South China 3-1 earlier today.

Looking at the overall game I think we were slightly better than Fulham because our defence were more organised and our overall performance was more energetic and determined in the heat of the Hong Kong stadium.

Individually I think Sol Campbell was the man of the match whilst Distin was also very good. I think Nugent struggled to make an impact although he showed great work ethic and strength when trying to win the ball whilst Muntari's passing was quite sloppy but he made up for it with some great ball winning skill.

I'm not going to criticise too much as it's only pre-season and the conditions were hardly favourable for players who need to get their fitness up. This game turned out to be a good workout and here's hoping we can lift some silverware come Friday.