Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Portsmouth 1

By Footymad Previewer
Last updated : 06 November 2002

Sturridge grabbed his fourth goal of the season after 62 minutes - just six minutes after skipper Paul Merson had given Portsmouth the lead.

But Wolves could well pay a heavy price for extending their unbeaten run to six games as striker Nathan Blake and George Ndah were both taken to hospital after suffering first-half injury problems.

Wolves were soon counting the cost of a bruising first half when Blake was forced off after just 15 minutes following a challenge from Paul Ritchie.

Clear cut chances were few and far between in a frantic opening, but Portsmouth were unfortunate not to take the lead in the 21st minute through Nigel Quashie.

A short corner from the Portsmouth skipper Paul Merson was helped on by Matthew Taylor into the path of Quashie whose 30-yard drive beat goalkeeper Matt Murray only to crash to safety off the angle of post and bar.

Despite enjoying a great deal of possession, Wolves struggled to muster much of a threat of their own until Sturridge, the replacement for Blake, raced clear after a mistake by Steve Stone only to see his 25th minute shot tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Shaka Hislop.

Ndah was stretchered off after a crunching challenge from Lassina Diabate in the 33rd minute that surprisingly failed to earn the Ivory Coast international even a caution.

The loss of Ndah paved the way for winger Mark Kennedy to make his comeback after an absence of almost seven months with a torn groin muscle.

Kennedy, like the rest of his Wolves team-mates, was relieved to end the first-half on level terms as it needed a smart near-post save from Murray in injury time from Merson to prevent Portsmouth breaking the deadlock.

While Wolves started brightly at the beginning of the second period, when Paul Ince and Kenny Miller went close, they were undone by a sublime piece of skill by Merson in the 56th minute that gave Portsmouth the lead.

Quashie was fouled 20 yards from goal by Kevin Cooper. This time Murray was helpless when Merson lifted his free-kick over the wall and into the back of the net with Murray rooted to his line.

But any hopes that Portsmouth had of Merson's strike being good enough to seal all the points were dashed by an even more impressive piece of skill from Sturridge.

Portsmouth's hard won advantage only lasted for six minutes. Sturridge collected a pass from Miler and waltzed into the penalty area, held off the challenge of three Portsmouth defenders before sliding the ball past Hislop

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