Portsmouth 1 Sunderland 0: Sunderland's plight on the road angers Keane

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The Independent Football

As a player, the one thing Roy Keane could not abide from his team-mates was lack of effort. Followed closely by lack of ambition. Hardly surprising then that he is getting increasingly anxious about Sunderland's collective plight as they continue to flirt with the prospect of once again plummeting straight out of the top flight.

Another away league defeat, a record-equalling 10th on the road, left Keane as publicly annoyed as he has ever been during a season that has had its moments of optimism and promise but, more often than not, has been a constant grind.

Next up for Sunderland will be a clash at Derby, a mother of all six-pointers at the bottom. But if his team don't build on the form shown at home, Keane is not too confident they can snap out of an unviable away record. "Every game for us is difficult at the moment but we cannot over-analyse the away games that are coming up," said Keane.

"We certainly have to do more going forward. We have lost a lot of away games by the odd goal but we cannot be victims all the time.

"If you'd asked me at the start of the season, we knew it would be difficult to win games away from home. Let's not kid ourselves. We have had setbacks before but always reacted in a positive manner, so that is what we need to do next weekend. We hope one positive result will change things away from home, but we have been saying that since August and the season is over soon."

Sunderland have a top striker in Kenwyne Jones but, judging by Saturday's performance at least, he needs far better service. Not that Portsmouth's strikers were especially well-served either, stifled by the opposition packing midfield. Only when the Pompey manager, Harry Redknapp, brought on Kanu and pushed Nico Kranjcar wide did they go through the gears in what was a scrappy, untidy affair.

The game was won with a penalty after Kranjcar cut in from the left on his right foot and went down over the luckless Phil Bardsley's outstretched boot. Referee Phil Dowd, having earlier rejected decent penalty shouts from both teams, this time pointed to the spot and Jermain Defoe drilled home an unstoppable shot for his second goal in successive home games.

Redknapp waxed lyrical about Kanu's impact. "He did fantastic again. His old knees are a bit iffy at times and I wouldn't like to say how long he can go on for. He has got another year with us and all the lads love him. Some of the things he does are just unbelievable. I have spoken to people who watched him at Ajax as a kid, and they have never seen skill like it."

Redknapp has no doubts about just what a signing Defoe will prove to be but has had to change Portsmouth's system to suit the England forward, using two strikers instead of one. "I think he is an 18 to 20 goal a year player if he plays enough games. But playing him up front on his own is not an ideal option, whereas Benjani could do that."

Goals: Defoe (69, pen) 1-0 .

Portsmouth (4-4-2): James; Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson; Diop, Diarra, Muntari, Kranjcar; Baros (Kanu, 64), Defoe. Susbstitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Lauren, Utaka, Davis.

Sunderland (4-5-1): Gordon; Bardsley, Nosworthy, Evans, Collins; Whitehead, Leadbitter (Yorke, 79), Etuhu, Murphy (Prica, 84),Reid (Chopra, 70); Jones. Substitutes not used: Ward (gk), McShane.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Portsmouth Johnson; Sunderland Collins, Yorke.

Man of the match: Kranjcar.

Attendance: 20,139.