Greening piles pressure on Pompey
Cash-strapped Portsmouth remained rooted to the bottom of the English Premier League after Jonathan Greening scored the winner for Fulham in a 1-0 victory at Craven Cottage on Wednesday to end the hosts run of five successive league defeats.
Portsmouth, as has been the case in recent matches, created several good chances but could not finish and they were made to pay the price when Greening scored his first goal for Fulham 16 minutes from time to nudge the visitors nearer relegation. Now Pompey, who are battling off the field against a winding up order from British tax authorities and have paid their players late several times this season, travel to Old Trafford to play champions Manchester United on Saturday with the south coast side five points adrift at the foot of the table.
"We played so good, we dominated the game and created a lot of chances, especially in the first half," disappointed Portsmouth manager Avram Grant told Sky Sports. "And then, from one mistake, we lost the game. It was very frustrating because we are not playing the football you'd expect at the bottom of the league but football of a team who deserve to be higher up the table," the Israeli added.
"But this is football, football is a game of results. We need to learn to take our chances. The boys tried hard and created a lot of chances but we need to put the ball in the net."
Asked if Pompey's financial problems were affecting players' performances on the field, Grant replied: "When they come on the pitch they are trying to do their best. Of course, it's not easy but they try hard, they fight and play good football. Except the result, everything was good today (Wednesday)."
Grant's own future at Fratton Park has been called into question by the cash crisis engulfing Portsmouth but he insisted: "I'm not the issue, the issue is the club, the issue is the fans. You see the fans today, they are great. It is a city that belongs to the club, the club belongs to the city and this is the life of the fans. The future of the club is what is important."
Kevin Prince Boateng got Pompey off to a bright start against Fulham, testing Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer with an angled drive. Frederic Piquionne then threatened and had a fine chance in the 12th minute only for Schwarzer to make the save.
Prince Boateng then saw a shot from 20 yards fly just wide of Schwarzer's right post. But Pompey are not where they are for no reason and it needed a fine one-handed save from their England goalkeeper David James to prevent a header from Aaron Hughes crossing the line following a Fulham corner.
Stefano Okaka missed a fine chance to score on his Fulham debut when the on-loan Italian somehow missed at the far post from Greening's header back across goal. In the second half, Pompey nearly took the lead when Côte d'Ivoire international striker Aruna Dindane's far-post header was turned away by Schwarzer.
Midfielder Greening, who made his name at Manchester United, finally ended the stalemate in the 74th minute when he turned in Damien Duff's centre across the six-yard box after the winger had dispossessed Algerian international Nadir Belhadj. Pompey kept pushing forward but the 2008 FA Cup winners still suffered their 16th defeat in 23 league games so far this season.