Bolton Wanderers 1 Portsmouth 0

Overhead kick could boot Perrin into touch
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The Independent Football

Milan Mandaric is expected back in the country within the next few days and the suspicion continues to grow that his first task will be to dispense with the services of a seventh manager in the past six years.

Last night, Portsmouth's problems grew when they slipped to defeat against Bolton Wanderers, who have now risen to third place in the Premiership.

Kevin Nolan's first-half overhead kick was the only goal of a game that started promisingly but faded as it went on. It left Portsmouth still searching for their second win of the season and Perrin has now tasted victory only three times during 15 matches in charge.

To cap it all, a furious Perrin lost his composure in injury time after Mark Clattenburg, the referee, ruled that Brian Priske had taken a throw-in from the wrong place despite his assistant previously appearing to give the Danish international permission to take it from there in the first instance. By sarcastically applauding Clattenburg à la Wayne Rooney - not just once but several times - it was inevitable the official would send him to the stands.

Hard done by the Frenchman may have been, but his actions bore the hallmark of an increasingly desperate man. He was unavailable for comment afterwards.

Portsmouth had started the more impressively, with Bolton disrupted by the loss of Gary Speed to a back injury inside the first 10 minutes. But just as Portsmouth were beginning to flourish they handed Bolton a lead that would prove decisive.

Henrik Pedersen, playing in an unfamiliar left-back role, hoisted a high cross to Kevin Davies. It was all too easy for the striker to head back across goal where Nolan's overhead kick from eight yards left Jamie Ashdown helpless. Well taken as the goal was, Portsmouth's defending was simply sub-standard.

Thereafter, Jay-Jay Okocha and Hidetoshi Nakata found too many spaces in front of Pompey's back-line while Nolan wasted the best chance of adding a second when he shot wide when through in the second half. In between, Pompey did pose an intermittent threat but the efforts of Dario Silva, the lone striker, were frustrated by a lack of support.

Bolton now head for Bulgaria and Thursday's Uefa Cup return leg against Lokomotiv Plovdiv in fine spirits. "Scoring first opened the game up and that made it slightly easier for us to create chances," said Sam Allardyce, the Bolton manager, whose side are enjoying their best-ever start to a Premiership season. "We created the better chances and especially after taking only a point from our first two games we're delighted to have 14 points.

"We've kept four clean sheets already this season and whatever anyone says that's a fantastic situation for us and the reason we've had such a fantastic start. If you don't concede then you only need to score once to win the game," he said.

The contrast between Bolton and Pompey could hardly be more marked. On this evidence, it promises to be a long season ahead for the south-coast club.