Football: Ball eyes seventh Heaven

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The Independent Online
ALAN BALL takes his Portsmouth side to the Manor Ground this afternoon keen to continue their six-game unbeaten after the afternoon's televised game against Oxford United.

Pompey's first league victory of the season came on Bank Holiday Monday against Queen's Park Rangers and the South Coast side's manager is anxious to continue the momentum established in the opening six weeks of the season.

Despite failing to win a league match until last Monday, Ball's team have proved resolute defenders, difficult to beat. And with the Australian striker John Aloisi in excellent form - he has scored seven goals in seven games - they are becoming a potent side going forward too.

"We've been playing very well in the last couple of games and we're now unbeaten in six matches," Ball said. "I thought we should have beaten Huddersfield last Saturday and I'm glad we finally got what we deserved last Monday.

"Now I'm looking for the players to carry that good form through for a decent run of results. We've had a few injuries but we've managed to cope and we've made a couple of signings to increase competition for places."

Portsmouth are expected to give the French midfielder Jeff Peron his debut at the Manor Ground following his pounds 150,000 move from Walsall in midweek. And the striker Martin Phillips, who signed for Pompey for a nominal fee last week from Manchester City, could also make his first start.

"We've needed to freshen things up a bit," Ball added, "and I'm delighted with the new lads. I've said for a long time that Martin Phillips is a talented young player - and Jeff Peron has a touch of class about him."

But it will be to Aloisi that Ball looks for more goals at the Manor Ground. "It's great to see a Portsmouth player at the top of the goalscoring charts for a change," he added.

Pompey will be without the central defender Andy Thomson who has an ankle injury, while their Greek defender Michalis Vlachos is doubtful with a badly bruised foot and Alan McLoughlin was in Dublin on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.