Pompey revived by victory and promise of new owner

Wolverhampton 0 Portsmouth 1
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The Independent Online

Portsmouth are expected to have a new owner early this week. Sulaiman al-Fahim, the man currently at the helm, is set to cede control of the club by selling much of his share to Ali al-Faraj, the Saudi property tycoon, either today or tomorrow, leaving him with a minority holding.

Fahim, who is convalescing following an operation to remove kidney stones in Dubai on Friday, only took over Pompey in August, but has struggled to produce the funds the club desperately needs. Faraj is believed to have been behind the £5m bridging loan provided at the end of last week to pay the players' wages.

"Due to my situtation I will need rest and meet them on Monday," said Fahim, who added that Faraj will be in place "on Monday or Tuesday". "My lawyers are in discussion with the consortium lawyers."

If the signals from the east are being correctly interpreted, a club fortified by their breakthrough victory over Wolves will this week welcome as majority stakeholder the man who challenged strongly for control in August as the financial muscle behind the Peter Storrie-led consortium.

Complicated though negotiations might yet be over a possible percentage ownership split between Fahim and Faraj, Portsmouth's manager Paul Hart spoke amid the relief and afterglow of Molineux about a good-news story in the making. "The new investment will see to it that the wages aren't delayed again," he said.

Hart insists his side had played better lately than they did here, although they were decent enough, especially in an energetic first half in which they were a yard sharper than Wolves.

Sparked by the dominance and quality of Kevin-Prince Boateng, they deserved more than the goal which the former Spurs player put on the head of the diving Hassan Yebda, a French-born on-loan Benfica midfielder making his first Premier League start.

Never before in this mother of all nightmare starts had the 2008 FA Cup-winners led in a league fixture and the unfamiliarity of their position in the game told late on as their back-pedalling allowed Wolves more than the glimpse of an equaliser.

It was then that David James exuded the calmer side of his forceful personality to preserve the status quo, icing his contribution with a terrific low save to Greg Halford's imaginative volley near the end.

On the afternoon Steve Finnan made an assured, belated debut at right-back, no less significant than James's mastery was the "save" Marc Wilson made from Michael Kightly's centre just past the hour. The defender's unspotted handball was confirmation that the division's bottom club were having the rub of the green.

Wolves, who also missed a glaring late chance through Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, are nursing a grievance of their own after their penalty misfortune at Sunderland eight days ago but their manager Mick McCarthy saved his anger for his players.

"We didn't do the basics right, as Portsmouth did," he said. "Our start is somewhere between reasonable and whatever comes below it. Losing at home to West Ham, drawing with Hull and losing here isn't good enough."

Ending another team's record-breaking run of seven straight League defeats at the start of a season is always going to carry a stigma and McCarthy would have been in no mood to appreciate the irony of Portsmouth's situation; namely, that, having finally sorted out the payroll, they now have to find some win bonus for the first time since May.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Hennessey; Foley (Kightly, 45), Mancienne, Berra, Elokobi (Maierhofer, 80); Halford, Edwards, Henry, Jarvis; Doyle, Keogh (Ebanks-Blake, 45). Substitutes not used: Craddock, Hahnemann (gk), Milijas, Zubar.

Portsmouth (4-4-2): James; Finnan, Kaboul, Wilson, Ben-Haim; Yebda (Mokoena, 78), Boateng, O'Hara, Brown; Dindane (Webber, 74), Smith (Vanden Borre, 90). Substitutes not used: Begovic, Williamson, Utaka, Belhadj.

Booked: Wolverhampton: Kightly. Portsmouth: O'Hara, Boateng.

Referee: H Webb.

Man of the match: Kevin Boateng.

Attendance: 29,023.

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