De Zeeuw leads the way for Portsmouth

Bolton Wanderers 0 - Portsmouth 1
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The Independent Football

For a man who had been the central figure in the tearing apart of Portsmouth Football Club, he could not have been more anonymous. Velimir Zajec merged with the crowd at the Reebok Stadium as if seeking solace from attention. Then his players grabbed it anyway.

Instead of retreating behind the disruption created by the resignation of their manager, Harry Redknapp, his former charges responded in a way they had not managed before and won away in the Premiership. And no one responded better than Arjan de Zeeuw.

It was the captain who got the goal that brought a happy end to a desperate week and De Zeeuw had also delivered the "fight them on the beaches" message just before the kick-off.

"We had a little huddle on the pitch and I told them: 'Forget about what's been said and done. Whoever's taking charge today it's us they'll be looking at on Match Of The Day and if we under-perform we'll be bad professionals."

And they did, to bring some solace to the under-fire chairman, Milan Mandaric, and to Zajec, whose appointment as executive director is said to have led to Redknapp and his assistant, Jim Smith, resigning.

"We were worried what the fans' reaction would be," De Zeeuw said. "They could have turned on the club but thankfully they didn't. The players needed their support today."

A pity then that Bolton Wanderers' El Hadji Diouf managed to create a spat all of his own. Or rather a spit, because De Zeeuw claimed the Senegalese striker had committed the crime footballers regard as more heinous than any other.

Sam Allardyce's side have now lost their last two home games and he had to suffer his supporters booing at full-time. "That's expectation," the Bolton manager said, "For the first time our fans are expecting us to win Premiership matches at the Reebok."

Goal: De Zeeuw (45) 0-1.

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen; Hunt, N'Gotty (Pedersen, 62), Jaidi, Gardner (Hierro, 57); Campo (Nolan, 88); Diouf, Okocha, Speed, Giannakopoulos; Davies. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Haim.

Portsmouth (4-5-1): Ashdown; Griffin, Primus, De Zeeuw, Stefanovic; O'Neil, Stone, Quashie, Berger, Taylor (Faye, 88); Fuller. Substitutes not used: Wapenaar (gk), Harper, Berkovic, Cissé.

Booked: Portsmouth: Quashie.

Referee: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).

Man of the match: De Zeeuw.

Attendance: 25,008.