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Portsmouth 1-1 Fulham: Ref robs Cottagers

last updated Saturday 11th November 2006, 5:31 PM

Former Fulham striker Andy Cole's second goal of his Portsmouth career rescued a point for Harry Redknapp's side after a combination of Antti Niemi's saves, the frame of his goal and dogged resistance appeared to have given Fulham victory.

Fulham defender Zat Knight amongst the goals
Fulham defender Zat Knight
amongst the goals

Defender Zat Knight's 56th-minute header which put Fulham in front was totally against the run of play after Kanu missed a sitter, former Fulham star Sean Davis headed against a post and Finland goalkeeper Niemi defied Lomana LuaLua and Kanu.

But ex-Fulham striker Cole, 35, struck his former club's crossbar soon after his 66th-minute arrival from the bench and pulled Pompey back level with 16 minutes to go.

Cole's second attempt to stab the ballover the line just made it - with a furious Fulham convinced Niemi had the ball in his grasp as he was challenged on the floor by Kanu.

But it cut no ice with referee Steve Bennett, who had ruled out Kanu's first-half claim for a penalty when challenged by Luis Boa Morte.

Fulham unashamedly ate up pressure with a 4-4-1-1 formation that had seen them unbeaten away since the first day of the season disaster at Manchester United.

But they deserved their point for a display full of character - and no little luck - but the match ended in a low note when winger Gary O'Neil was carried off on a stretcher with his legs strapped together.

When the first half ended goalless, Pompey must have feared that failure to take early chances would cost them dear.

LuaLua, starting only his second league match this season, brilliantly set up Kanu after just three minutes but the giant striker's shot went wide.

Niemi, jeered by Pompey fans for his Southampton connections, nearly handed Kanu another clear chance when he slipped as he took a goal-kick but Knight showed good speed to rob the Nigerian of the unexpected opportunity.

And with only 12 minutes on the clock Niemi needed the help of a post to keep out ex-Fulham midfielder Davis's header.

Kanu was prominent in every Pompey attack but Niemi was in good form and saved his side again when Franck Queudrue's trip on Pedro Mendes brought a 17th-minute free-kick which LuaLua arrowed towards the top-corner.

Fulham, with just one designated striker in Brian McBride, showed little in attack and the home crowd wanted a penalty when Kanu tumbled over Boa Morte's challenge but referee Bennett was ideally placed.

Match Stats Pompey Fulham
Goals 1 1
Possession 57% 43%
Goal attempts 16 9
On Target 7 4
Corners 16 5
Off-sides 7 0
Fouls 9 6
Yellows 0 2
Reds 0 0
source: Soccernet

Lualua twice went close after solo bursts and wasarginally offside when appearing to miss a sitter from fit-again defender Linvoy Primus's cross.

Carlos Bocanegra gave David James his only anxious moment of the first half when the American's firm header from a Claus Jensen corner was stopped on the line as the big goalkeeper showed razor-sharp reactions to get down to it.

Fulham's smothering formation was not pretty to watch but was increasingly effective and just before the break he pulled out another top-drawer save to paw away Kanu's header from O'Neil's corner.

Pompey were desperately close again six minutes after the interval when O'Neil slid in just too late to make a connection at the far post after LuaLua and Kanu again carved open the Fulham defence.

But the visitors snatched an unlikely lead just five minutes later when Knight headed in another accurate corner from Jensen.

The ball appeared to deflect off Stefanovic before beating James but there was no dispute Knight should claim his first goal of the season.

Pompey's luck was out again though when Primus arrived at the far post only to bundle Pedro Mendes' corner against the upright.

That was the signal for Cole's arrival from the bench and although he initially experienced no better fortune when a header from O'Neil's corner came back off the crossbar he was to have a decisive say.

Eight minutes after coming on Cole launched himself into an almighty scramble in the six-yard box after Sol Campbell's header was blocked by Niemi and toe-ended the loose ball over the line at the second attempt.

Niemi, though, still had one last word as he dived low to beat away LuaLua's shot in stoppage time.

Portsmouth James, Pamarot, Primus, Campbell, Stefanovic,O'Neil (Thompson 87), Davis, Pedro Mendes, Taylor (Cole 66),Kanu (Mwaruwari 83), LuaLua.
Subs Not Used: Kiely, O'Brien.

Goals: Cole 74.

Fulham Niemi, Rosenior, Knight, Pearce, Queudrue, Boa Morte,Bocanegra, Claus Jensen (Diop 86), Volz (Routledge 79),Radzinski, McBride (John 90).
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Helguson.

Booked: Knight (45,ub), Niemi (64,tw), Queudrue (85,d).

Goals: Knight 57.
Outswinging corner from the right taken right-footed by Claus Jensen, headed by Zat Knight into the low centre of goal from the centre of penalty area from 12 yards out. Assist by Claus Jensen.

Att: 19,563

Ref: S Bennett (Kent).







Source Bill Pierce at PA Sport
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