Date: 1st November 2008 at 6:18pm
Written by: Baskerville

A late goal for Emile Heskey which brought up a career one hundred premier league goals secured the three points for Wigan on a rain swept south coast.

Steve Bruce rang the changes, restoring Bramble and Koumas to the starting line up in place of Scharner and Kilbane.

The formation was also changed to 4-5-1 with Heskey dropping back into midfield when defending.

Latics started the brighter with Valencia causing all sorts of problems for the home defence.

Amr Zaki looked sharp early on, trying to break his two match goal scoring drought and he nearly scored in the second minute when a header flashed past the post with James appearing beaten.

Heskey not to be outdone by his striking partner, shot from the edge of the area. James saved well but couldn’t hold the ball and Portsmouth scrambled the ball away

Portsmouth came back into the game and a header from Crouch from a corner hit the bar with Kirkland well beaten.

The weather was truly appalling and Cattermole was the first into the book, a harsh decision in my opinion by Mr Walton who appeared not to take the conditions into account.

The game was end to end and Latics with Cattermole and Palacios provided quality ball to Koumas and Valencia who looked dangerous every time they pressed forward.

Bramble was the next player into the book, again harsh in my opinion as he looked to have played the ball.

Portsmouth were not outdone by Latics attackin prowess and Palacios cleared the ball off the line from a powerful header by Bouba Diop.

Zaki almost added to his goal tally, when Palacios broke down the right and fired over a challenging cross which Zaki just failed to connect with.

Zaki didn’t have to wait long however, when Bramble was tripped in the area from a Koumas corner. Zaki stepped up and as James dove to his right, Zaki coolly blasted the ball down the centre of the goal, sending the rain sodden Latics fans behind that goal into ectasy.

The second half started with a sustained period of Pompey dominance but the Latics defence held out, with Boyce and Bramble outstanding at the heart of it. Latics had to survive several scares however, with the bar being hit twice in quick succession and Boyce clearing off the line from a fierce free kick from former Wigan target Nico Kranjker.

At the other end, Latics were denied a perfectly good second goal when the ever impressive Valenica beat the offside trap and buried the ball past the advancing James. The assistant referee incorrectly flagged for offside and the score remained one nil.

At the other end a free kick occured which was more suitable to the pantomine season.

Koumas who had a good game challenged for a ball on the edge of the penalty area, the ball spun through to Kirkland who trapped it with his feet and under pressure from the Pompey forwards picked the ball up. Mr Walton ruled it a deliberate back pass and we were treated to the sight of all ten Latics outfield players on the line with Kirkland just in front. The free kick took a deflection as Kirkland rushed out and the ball was cleard off the line once again by the Latics defence.

At the other end Zaki looked particulary sharp but caused cause for concern when he went down under a heavy challenge which was as much a booking as the ones awarded by Mr Walton but not even a free kick was awarded. Thankfully Amr was fit to resume his duties after treatment.

Kirkland once again showed his England credentials, when blocking a fierce shot with his legs which went out for a corner.

Portsmouth pressed forward looking for an equiliser and once again the woodwork saved Wigan.

Portsmouth finally got the equiliser they deserved when Kranjkar gave Kirkland no chance, lashing the ball in for an equiliser.

Both sides seemed determined to press for a win, Valencia seeing two chances blocked by James and Bramble cleared up well another Pompey attack.

The winning goal was made by the industry and commitment of Cattermole ,who put a superb ball into Heskey who slid it past James.

Latics hung on for the victory which broke the four match losing run with a performance high on grit, determination, commitment and not a little skill.

Player Ratings

Chris Kirkland….8/10
A terrible afternoon for keepers but Chris once again proved his England claims are not fatuous

Mario Melchiot 7/10
Worked tremendously hard. Led by example

Maynor Figueroa…7/10
Was given a testing time by the Pompey front line

Emerson Boyce…8/10
A superb goal line clearence and a totally committed performance

Titus Bramble…8,5/10
A titanic performance from Titus who answered the critism from his manager in the best way possible

Antonio Valencia…9/10
His level of skill on an afternoon best suited to big hoofs upfield was a pleasure to watch.

Lee Cattermole…8/10
A tremendously industrious performance

Wilson Palacios…8/10
A return to form for the Honduran

Jason Koumas…7.5/10
Worked hard, skillful going forward and tracked back in defence

Emile Heskey…8/10
never stopped trying and his goal was reward for his effort

Amr Zaki…8/10
Is a marked man but caused a great deal of trouble for the Pompey defence

Manager Rating
Steve Bruce…9/10 Was under pressure after the pitiful last two games but made the tough decision to drop Scharner and bring back the much maligned Bramble. This coupled with tactical changes amd some tremendous motivation resulted in a win.

Once again, some dubious decisions which seemed to favour Pompey. Three bookings to nil when two tackles on Valencia and Zaki were as bad and a disallowed goal could have cost us the game