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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 September 2006, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Portsmouth 1-0 Wigan
By John May

Portsmouth striker Benjani Mwaruwari
Benjani fired Pompey ahead
Benjani Mwaruwari's sharp finish earned Portsmouth victory over Wigan to maintain his side's unbeaten record.

The Zimbabwe striker stole in behind a static defence to fire across Chris Kirkland for the game's only goal.

Neither goalkeeper was required to make a save in a poor first half dominated by defences.

Pompey sub Lomano LuaLua struck the outside of a post, but David James preserved Pompey's lead with a superb save from Luis Antonio Valencia.

Portsmouth midfielder Pedro Mendes returned to action 14 days after being laid out by Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher's horror challenge.

Wigan threatened to breach Pompey's defence for the first time this season when keeper Chris Kirkland's long punt was flicked on by Emile Heskey for Henri Camara to hook over the bar.

At the other end, Glen Johnson squirmed between two defenders to whip in a wicked cross that Sean Davis just failed to reach.

Wigan certainly asked plenty of questions of the Pompey defence early on as they found the width to work in a succession of crosses but Sol Campbell and Linvoy Primus were rock-solid as they dealt with them.

Likewise, former Fratton favourite Arjan de Zeeuw marshalled Wigan's back line and Pompey found it difficult to make headway.

With both defences holding a high line to compress play, time and space were at a premium in midfield, but Wigan's on-loan Ecuadorean Valencia showed some neat touches to suggest he will cope with the demands of the Premiership.

Primus's foul on Camara gave Wigan a sight of goal but Danny Landzaat slammed the free-kick into the wall and the first half ended with neither keeper required to make a save.

Former England colleagues Campbell and Heskey had been involved in a good first-half battle and Campbell proved the winner four minutes into the second half to set up Portsmouth's opener.

Portsmouth midfielder Pedro Mendes
Mendes returned to action for Portsmouth

Campbell's towering defensive header caught the Wigan defence on their heels and Benjani nipped behind Fitz Hall to clip the ball over the advancing Kirkland's dive for his second goal of the season.

Heskey got the better of Campbell as Wigan sought an immediate reply, holding the ball up well before rolling it into the path of Camara who wastefully blasted over.

Gary O'Neil should have doubled Portsmouth's lead when a long throw glanced off Paul Scharner's head but from six yards out the midfielder placed his header straight at a grateful Kirkland.

James caused a flutter in Pompey hearts when he spilled Landzaat's half-hit shot but he had time to gather at the second attempt.

Pompey failed to dominate after taking the lead and needed Johnson to rescue them as he scraped Heskey's header off the line.

LuaLua rolled a shot against the outside of the post but James produced an outstanding save as he arched up to claw away Valencia's dipping shot, to preserve his fourth clean sheet of the season.

  • Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp:
    "The first goal was going to be important and I thought they were more capable of grabbing it and I was grateful we went in at half-time level.

    "But it's a squad game nowadays and although we won at Middlesbrough I changed a winning team.

    "It's been a great start and it's given us a good platform and if we have a bad run it will stand us in good stead."

  • Wigan manager Paul Jewell:
    "I'm naturally disappointed with the result but I'm pleased with the performance, we dominated most of the game.

    "We're a new team with players settling into the side, and it's important we take heart from the display.

    "I think we were the better side and should have won, but we didn't pick the right pass in the final third."

    Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Primus, Campbell, Stefanovic (Pamarot 66), O'Neil, Davis, Pedro Mendes (Thompson 86), Taylor, Mwaruwari, Kanu (LuaLua 76).
    Subs Not Used: Kiely, Koroman.

    Goals: Mwaruwari 49.

    Wigan: Kirkland, Boyce, De Zeeuw, Hall, Baines, Valencia, Scharner, Landzaat, Teale (Cotterill 78), Heskey, Camara (Johansson 90).
    Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Jackson, Skoko.

    Booked: Hall.

    Att: 19,508

    Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).


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