Football: Evans strikes big for Little

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The Independent Online
West Bromwich Albion 3 Portsmouth 2

A LAST-GASP goal from the substitute Mickey Evans earned West Brom's manager, Brian Little, his first League success at the Hawthorns.

The Republic of Ireland striker joined the action with just nine minutes left on the clock and found the target with a right-foot shot to end Albion's run of six draws and two defeats in front of their home supporters. But Albion, booed off the pitch at the break when they were losing 2-1 to Pompey, had to pull out all the stops to bank maximum home points.

It was Little's men who opened the scoring when the Italian starlet Enzo Maresca found the net from the narrowest of angles in the 14th minute after dribbling his way past keeper Aaron Flahavan.

But Alan Ball's Pompey stunned Albion with two goals in nine minutes. Their veteran striker, Guy Whittingham, levelled the score with a glancing header in the 20th minute after a right-wing cross from Michael Panopoulos and then, in the 29th minute, the captain Andy Awford headed powerfully in to give Pompey a deserved lead.

After the break it was Albion who took the initiative and levelled in the 59th minute when their defender Jason van Blerk grabbed his first goal in two-and-a-half years at The Hawthorns. The Australian made no mistake with a powerful right-foot shot after the ball had been laid back by the striker Lee Hughes.

Pompey were then reduced to 10 men in the 67th minute when Simpson was given his marching orders for his second bookable offence - just 60 seconds after a first yellow card flashed for time-wasting.

Albion continued to press and they had their fans cheering when Evans made it 3-2 with his 89th minute shot after the ball had been slotted into his path by James Quinn.

"The sending off was very important," Little admitted. "It meant we were able to play three strikers for the last few minutes of the game and that was a move that paid off. we never lost our belief in what we were doing."

Goals: Maresca (14) 1-0, Whittingham (20) 1-1, Awford (29) 1-2, Van Blerk (59) 2-2, Evans (89) 3-2.

West Brom: Miller, McDermott (Evans 81), Sigurdsson, Raven, Burgess, Van Blerk, Flynn, Sneekes, Maresca, Quinn, Hughes. Substitutes not used: Adamson, De Freitas, Oliver, Gabbidon.

Portsmouth: Flahavan, Pamarot, Vlachos, Waterman (Phillips 64), Crowe, Awford, Simpson, Panopoulos, Robinson, Bradbury, Whittingham (Peron 71). Substitutes not used: Petterson, Igoe, Lovell.

Referee: P Danson (Leicester).

Sendings off: Portsmouth: Simpson (Portsmouth). Bookings: Portsmouth: Pamarot, Waterman, Vlachos, Simpson.

Attendance: 11,483

Man of the match: Flahavan.