Mid-table security is not having all that positive an effect on Roy Hodgson, judging by the bags under the Fulham manager's eyes. Maybe he will sleep easier after this win, as his side now lie ninth and he can dream of a top-10 finish – or better.
His Portsmouth counterpart, Tony Adams, is the one with the genuine worries as he frets over how to stop his side's inexorable descent towards the relegation zone.
For Adams, it is all about theterrible twos. The South Coast club have won two points from their past eight games; it has been two months since Portsmouth picked up the second of their two League wins under Adams; and they allowed Erik Nevland, Fulham's Norwegian second-half substitute, the space to score two goals that killed them off.
Pompey sit one point and three places outside the relegation zone, and will slip closer to it if Newcastle draw against Sunderland today.
Adams' introduction to management at this level has been pretty brutal, and he conceded: "It has been a tough period, on and off the pitch."
That was a reference to the sale last month of two of Portsmouth's most important players, Lassana Diarra and Jermain Defoe. Adams added: "Players' heads have been turned. I'm looking forward to the window closing." Before that happens, he is looking to bring in Giovani Dos Santos, 19, from Tottenham.
Hodgson gave Adams his backing, but the former Arsenal captain was not hiding from his side's costly errorsfor the first two goals yesterday."We made mistakes in defence," he said. "We gambled on defence with impossible lines. We continue tomake mistakes."
Asked whether Pompey deserved a second-half penalty for John Pantsil's challenge on Peter Crouch, he replied: "I'm not interested in refs. I want to control the controllables."
The first goal fell into that category with Younes Kaboul in for the injured Sol Campbell, the visitors' defence looked uncertain. And when Clint Dempsey fed Andy Johnson, the attempt at an offside trap was late and desperate, allowing the striker to curl his shot low into the corner of David James's net.
Pompey's response saw Kaboul head against the crossbar six minutes before the break. But if only they found it as easy to score as they did togift goals, then they might not be in such trouble.
With 19 minutes remaining, Simon Davies hit a high, hopeful ball behind an equally high defence and James was stranded as Nevland – on for Bobby Zamora – closed in on him and curled his shot inside the post.
Eight minutes later Davies found the Norwegian in the penalty box, and his turn and shot beat James at his near post.
Portsmouth pulled one back through David Nugent's header four minutes later, but not even that was enough to worry Hodgson.
Referee: Alan Wiley
Man of the match: Davies
Match rating: 6/10Reuse content