Portsmouth 2 Wigan Athletic 1: Kanu helps weather Wigan fightback to give Jewell frown

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The Independent Online

A classic FA Cup tie this was not, but Pompey continue to reel off victories, the latest of which came over a desperately poor Wigan Athletic side. There was little of the competition's magic at a wet Fratton Park, but a late goal from the Nigerian substitute Kanu, after Wigan's equaliser looked set to take the game into a replay, provided Portsmouth's passage into the fourth round.

"I was pleased with the result and the way that we kept going on," said the Portsmouth manager, Harry Redknapp. "If we could have a Cup run, it would be fantastic. It is the most special day of the football year and I cannot understand how people can devalue it."

Of his match-winner, who has been linked to a move, he said: "Kanu has been fantastic this season. That is 10 goals that he has scored. He is here until the end of the season and hopefully next season too."

Wigan were dreadful. The closest they got to Portsmouth's goal in the first half was when Emile Heskey chased long balls. The game was dismal viewing for the hardy band of Wigan supporters who had made the long journey down from Lancashire. A torrential downpour midway through the half saw them race out of their seats in the uncovered Milton End to safety. So much for the magic of the FA Cup.

Portsmouth, meanwhile, were bristling with attacking intent, and Andrew Cole made the most of the opportunity handed to him by Redknapp. The former Manchester United striker showed glimpses of the ability that had made him one of the League's most prolific goalscorers. On 18 minutes he turned his defender on the edge of the penalty area in one swift movement before unleashing a low shot at Mike Pollitt only for the Wigan goalkeeper to save smartly. Portsmouth's second half began slowly and it looked like Wigan were beginning to gain a foothold. But on 64 minutes the full-back Glen Johnson crossed from the right wing. Cole took the ball down before turning his marker and unleashing a firm left-footed shot high into the net, it was the fourth goal of the season for the player who twice won the competition with Manchester United.

The home side's lead, however, looked precarious. With seven minutes of the match remaining, Wigan equalised. The substitute Shaun Teale crossed from the right wing and the striker Lee McCulloch, waiting at the edge of the penalty area, thundered the ball home. But a minute into injury time, Kanu, who had been brought on at half-time, sealed victory after he headed Johnson's floated cross into the net from close range.

"I do not like losing games, especially after we have got back into them," said the Wigan manager, Paul Jewell, after his side recorded their sixth straight defeat. "I would be lying if I said we are not worried. We are in a hole and need to climb out of it."

Redknapp, meanwhile, insisted that his spending plans would not be affected by the recent departure of David Chissick, the Portsmouth vice-chairman. Questions had been raised about the future of the Portsmouth owner, Alexandre Gaydamak.

"I have no concerns about that," said Redknapp. "If I need any players, I will speak to him and Peter Storrie. Why would he leave if he has just spent £32 million on the club?"

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