Portsmouth 2 Wigan Athletic 1: Cole cuts Redknapp's blues

Click to follow
The Independent Football

For a romantic, the sheer exhilaration of the third round of the FA Cup, together with its hard-luck stories and giant-killings, may take some beating. Harry Redknapp, the Portsmouth manager, is one of those.

So, unlike a number of his profession who have taken to fielding weakened teams in the FA Cup in recent years, something that Redknapp criticised as "devaluing" the competition, he sent out a full-strength Pompey team to overcame a disjointed Wigan Athletic at a wet and blustery Fratton Park on Saturday.

For a top-flight manager, however, the month of January is more synonymous now with the opening of the transfer window - and the headaches and frustration that it brings - than the first tilt at FA Cup glory and dreams of Wembley in May.

"It is the worst month of the year for me - I hate it," said Redknapp, who saw his Nigerian striker Nwankwo Kanu score a late header to secure a place in the fourth round for Portsmouth. "It does your head in. I don't even answer the phone, I wait for messages to be left. And if I want to ring back, I will do so.

"I would rather turn my phone off," he added, "than talk to stupid agents who ring me and tell me how good these players are - and 90 per cent of the time they are absolutely useless."

It took that goal, a minute into injury time, from Kanu, to clinch his side's win and keep him happy.

Wigan, who were dire for much of the game, had equalised through Lee McCulloch seven minutes from time after a goal from Andy Cole with a trademark swivel-and-turn shot had put Portsmouth ahead. Redknapp heaped praise on Cole, an FA Cup winner with Manchester United, and revealed that the former England striker, 35, had attracted interest from rival clubs. "I had two phone calls from Premiership clubs this week asking about him," Redknapp said.

"I tell them that I can't let him go. He is happy, as long as he is playing. And if he keeps playing like he has, he will stay in the team. If he keeps himself fit, he will keep himself playing."

The Wigan manager Paul Jewell, whose side registered a sixth successive defeat, had concerns of his own. "I always knew that it was going to be a dog-fight," he said.

Wigan are plummeting down the Premiership table after a fine 10th-place finish last season. As Jewell put it: "Forget last season's romantic story, we are not the new kids on the block anymore."

He added: "There is only one way to get confidence back and that is to win matches. I am not going to lambast the players because I knew that this season was always going to be more difficult than last season."

Goals: Cole (64) 1-0; McCulloch (83) 1-1; Kanu (90) 2-1.

Portsmouth (4-4-2) James; Johnson, Primus, Campbell, Taylor; O'Neil, Mendes, Davis, Kranjcar (Thompson, 79); Cole, Mwaruwari (Kanu, h-t). Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Griffin, O'Brien.

Wigan (4-4-2) Pollitt; Hall, Granqvist (Jackson, 80), Boyce, Baines; Cotterill, Johansson, Landzaat (Haestad, 66), Kilbane (Teale, 70); Heskey, McCulloch.Substitutes not used: Filan (gk), Wright.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Wigan Hall.

Man of the match: Cole.

Attendance: 14,336.

Comments