Yebda Header Slays Wolves

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 04 October 2009
Hassan Yebda's header at Molineux was enough to end Pompey's losing streak and claim their first victory of the season, and it feels really good!

There is a huge sense of relief around Portsmouth now and with the news that Sulaiman Al-Fahim is about to sell his majority stake in the club to the Al-Farraj brothers, things are beginning to look up after a torrid week.

There may have been controversy about the result, given that Wolves were denied a blatant penalty in the second half when Marc Wilson clearly handled Michael Kightly's cross but for all the terrible luck we have suffered this season, I really don't care or have any sympathy for the angry Wolves supporters!

I thought we played well in the first half and deserved our early lead for putting Wolves under pressure. It was a superb cross from Boateng to pick out Yebda but Mick McCarthy must have been fuming at his defence to allow the Algerian to pick his spot.

Pompey had a glorious chance to double the lead when Tommy Smith weaved his way through the Wolves defence and squared for Dindane who had his shot parried back to Smith, who shot wide from a narrow angle.

At the other end Pompey were pretty comfortable although winger Matt Jarvis gave debutant Steve Finnan some problems. Tal Ben-Haim also deserves enormous credit for his "match saving" challenge on Kevin Doyle as he was about to pull the trigger from three yards on the stroke of half-time.

The second half saw Wolves come forward with more purpose and it took some stout defending from the back four to keep the ball away from David James' goal. Jamo had to make a superb save himself from Greg Halford's volley through a wall of players.

If there is any criticism of Paul Hart yesterday it was his substitutes to relief the pressure. Danny Webber did not offer any sort of attacking outlet or calming influence, which is something which Piquionne or Kanu would have managed, yet neither even made the bench.

That is simply a small gripe though as I thought Hart got most of his tactical decisions correct yesterday.

It takes some bottle to drop your captain his replacement certainly made a name for himself with a good performance and his scoring of the winner, whilst Ben-Haim looks like a different player at left back and Finnan offers more solidarity than Vanden Borre on the opposite flank.

He also deserves extra credit for pulling the players together during a time of crisis. You could see how much the win meant to them and Hart himself, even if we did have a stroke of luck with the non-penalty decision.

We now have a break for international matches before the next league game that needs no introduction. That gives us time to get the off-the-pitch issues sorted and to raise the spirits of the fans further.

There is still plenty of work to do, but this result may prove to be the catalyst for a recovery.

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 8 - Great save from Halford's volley and took every threatening Wolves corner.

Steve Finnan: 6 - Solid debut.

Marc Wilson: 7 - Is maturing into a top defender, but got a huge slice of luck with the handball.

Younes Kaboul: 7 - Continues to shine.

Tal Ben-Haim: 8 - A rock in his natural position, making a couple of excellent challenges.

Michael Brown: 6 - Performed as usual.

Hassan Yebda: 8 - Crucial goal to top a very good showing.

Jamie O'Hara: 7 - Shone again but ran out of steam towards the end.

Kevin-Prince Boateng: 7 - Good technical ability and strength to keep the ball.

Tommy Smith: 7 - Tormented the Wolves defence when given the opportunity.

Aruna Dindane: 6 - Still finding his fitness.

Substitutes

Asmir Begovic

Anthony Vanden Borre (Smith 90): N/A - Time eating sub.

Mike Williamson

Nadir Belhadj

Aaron Mokoena (Yebda 78): N/A - Shored up the backline.

John Utaka

Danny Webber (Dindane 73): N/A - Didn't really trouble the Wolves defence.

Portsmouth Match Reports


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