Crouch downs poor Everton

Portsmouth 2 Everton 1
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The Independent Online

Paul Hart could see it coming. Not just the win over an anaemic-looking Everton, who had lost only once in 18 games, but also Peter Crouch, who scored both Portsmouth's goals, becoming a presence in English football. The Portsmouth manager has hopped around various clubs, and 13 years ago he was Nottingham Forest's academy manager. Back then, on the youth team rounds, he came across an unusually tall teenager.

Hart explained: "I've seen Peter since he was 16 years of age, and what he does, doesn't surprise me. He's a smashing player. He's got more to offer than just [us] smacking balls into the box to him. He brings people into play, he gets hold of it, he plays at the sharp end where it's not all that pleasant. I've got nothing but admiration for him.

"At Forest we used to play against him so I saw him from a very young age. He was like he is now, gangly, and it takes a bit of time, but once you see through that ... even at a young age he was more than just a big 6ft 5in boy who headed it. He got hold of it."

That was in Crouch's days as a Tottenham Hotspur trainee – he is even taller now, by about two inches – and, although he never played for the north London side, he does have Aston Villa and Liverpool on his CV, of course, as well as 31 England caps, with 14 international goals.

At Fratton Park, he scored his 10th and 11th of the league campaign, near-identical goals from high balls. The first was set up by Glen Johnson, the second from a corner, although there was luck surrounding the first. Johnson had shanked a shot that should have led to a goal-kick but he appealed for a corner, which he was given, and from the set piece Crouch (below) struck. That took away the shock of having conceded Leighton Baines' first Everton goal, a well taken free-kick from 20 yards, although after that the visitors offered little.

Portsmouth's minds are now on climbing further away from the relegation fight. Crouch said: "Nine more games left and if we continue to play like that we'll have no trouble."

Goals: Baines (4) 0-1; Crouch (22) 1-1; Crouch (75) 2-1.

Portsmouth (4-4-1-1): James; Kaboul, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson; Johnson, Mullins, Davis, Nugent (Kanu, 74); Kranjcar; Crouch. Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Pamarot, Utaka, Hughes, Basinas, Belhadj.

Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Jacobsen (Gosling, 86), Jagielka, Lescott, Baines; Osman, Neville, Fellaini, Pienaar; Jo (Rodwell, 90), Saha. Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Castillo, Agard, Baxter, Wallace.

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Booked: Portsmouth Kaboul, Hreidarsson; Everton Osman.

Man of the match: Crouch.

Attendance: 20,388.