Portsmouth 0 Wolves 0

By Footymad Previewer
Last updated : 01 February 2004

With more than a little help from the woodwork, which Pompey struck no fewer than four times, Jones pulled off a string of fine saves.

But his namesake, Wolves manager Dave Jones admitted it had been a difficult decision as to whether to play the Welsh international just a day after his £250,000 move from St Mary's.

"I pondered long and hard during the three-hour trip down to Portsmouth and decided to back my judgement," Jones said.

"But he's an experienced international keeper and, bearing in mind the way he played, I think I got it right.

"I'm paid to make decisions like this. Michael Oakes, who was left out, wasn't happy but there again I wouldn't expect him to be."

The pick of the Jones saves were the 13th minute dive to keep out an effort from Alexei Smertin and a stunning save to deny Portsmouth substitute Yakubu Ayegbeni immediately after the break.

Ayegbeni, sent home in disgrace from Nigeria's African Cup of Nations campaign in Tunisia for breaking a drinking curfew, was named on the Portsmouth bench despite only arriving back in the country at lunchtime.

He dashed to Fratton Park from London's Heathrow, arriving ten minutes after the game had started, but in shape to replace Croatian debutant Ivica Mornar, who jarred a hamstring towards the end of a lively 45-minute Premiership baptism.

For 90 minutes Portsmouth huffed and puffed but failed to blow the Wolves goal down.

They largely dictated affairs, but as early as the third minute got an indication of what might be to come when Eyal Berkovic hit the Wolves woodwork, when he really ought to have scored.

It was to be the tale of the first half, with Portsmouth's blue shirts pouring forward yet missing chances in a thoroughly absorbing affair being played out in increasingly atrocious gale force conditions.

Minutes later a poor clearance from Jones set up a golden opportunity for Teddy Sherringham, but the former England man clipped the far upright with a low drive and should have done better.

Smertin brought the best out of Jones and then from Mornar's set up, Sherringham hooked the ball over and inviting Wolves goal.

Wolves overcame a rocky opening 20 minutes to create a couple of chances of their own, Kenny Miller shooting straight at Hislop, who then made his most important save from Carl Cort, who ought to have christened his £2million debut with a goal eight minutes before the break.

In between times, Jones diverted a header from the energetic Linvoy Primus on to the bar - Portsmouth's third strike on the visitiors' woodwork inside half an hour.

But the save the of the match from the Welsh international keeper came moments after half time to deny Ayegbeni with almost his first touch of the game.

The Welshman brought off a breathtaking save as the Nigerian looked odds on to score his ninth goal of the season.

Wolves, with Paul Butler and Jody Craddock outstanding in the centre of defence, retained a lot more shape in the second half, but Portsmouth still could not find a way through.

In an increasingly fraught match, Primus had an effort which struck the base of the Wolves post, but at the other end Wolves had an opportunity late on when Colin Cameron fired across the Portsmouth goal.

Man of the Match: Paul Jones – Made an exceptional second debut for Wolves, fully justifying Dave Jones' decision to prefer him to Michael Oakes.

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