Football: Rangers suffer as Aloisi strikes

Portsmouth 3 Queen's Park Rangers 0
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The Independent Online
WHEN A striker's star is in the ascendancy, he feels as if everything will run his way. Take John Aloisi, Portsmouth's Australian international. He wakes up on a Bank Holiday morning, six goals in six games already under his belt, only to realise Queen's Park Rangers, without an away win in the league since last September, are the visitors.

Sure enough Aloisi, who might have wondered if the departure of the former Australia and Portsmouth supremo Terry Venables from Fratton Park would affect his first-team chances, found fortune smiling on him again as Rangers continued their wretched start to the season.

The margin of Portsmouth's victory ultimately reflected their superiority but, until the final three minutes, Aloisi's goal was all that divided the sides. It was more out of good habit-keeping than any real hope that the former Cremonese striker was still running when Fitzroy Simpson lamped the ball forward after 34 minutes. But then Karl Ready suffered one of those lapses when a defender looks as if he is suddenly wondering whether he has plugged the video in for Coronation Street, the ball sailed over his head and Aloisi pounced, steering his lob, left footed, over Lee Harper and into the gaping goal.

"That changed the influence of the game, the atmosphere of the game," claimed Rangers' manager Ray Harford. "Up until that point I thought we controlled it. The stats keep coming out, of so many wins in so many games, but as long as [my] people don't start believing them, we'll be all right. The results haven't been good but I think the performances have been."

Rangers played neatly enough in midfield, but up front Mike Sheron, substituted at half-time by the livelier Chris Kiwomya, and Kevin Gallen were shadows of their former selves. Gallen could have softened some severe memories of Fratton Park after 65 minutes if he had headed in Kiwomya's cross. Instead, at the ground where he sustained a bad knee injury two years ago this week, he missed the goal from two yards out.

Portsmouth's first league win of the season was confirmed when Alan McLoughlin thudded in a near-post header in the dying minutes and four minutes into injury time Phillips, Ball's protege at Exeter and Manchester City, sealed the win.

Portsmouth: Flahavan; Thorgersen, Vlachos, Pethick, Whitbread, Simpson; Hillier, McLoughlin; Igoe (Phillips, 74); Aloisi, Claridge. Substitutes not used: Durnin, Kyzerides.

Queen's Park Rangers: Harper; Rose, Ready (Rowland, 77), Baraclough; Scully, Murray, Peacock, Slade; Sheron (Kiwomya, h-t), Gallen. Substitute not used: Yates.

Referee: K Lynch (Kirk Hammerton).