Portsmouth 2 West Ham Utd 0: Harry casts Hammers further into the Cole furnace

Portsmouth manager rubs salt into the wounds of his old side while his own club carry on their unlikely stay near the top of the table

According to their manager, Harry Redknapp, Portsmouth have been a sleeping giant for more than 50 years "and they'd still be sleeping now if I hadn't come back". He is entitled to a little immodesty, given the way he kept the club in the Premiership and is now taking them to another level after a summer of shopping for players he had in many cases been warned against taking on.

Glen Johnson, who seemed to have lost his way at Chelsea, was outstanding yesterday; Sol Campbell was immaculate alongside him and on the rare occasions West Ham threatened to end their dreadful run without a goal, the much maligned David James kept them out.

Above all, Redknapp believes that if they are good enough, they are young enough. So the footballing artist who now insists on being known as Andrew Cole will celebrate his 35th birthday in fine fettle today after scoring a first goal for his latest club to push them back into the Premiership's top three and consign West Ham to another weekend of misery and introspection. Cole's vintage finish in the 82nd minute ended any prospect of the London side taking an undeserved draw to revive their unusually - if understandably - subdued followers. It is now two points from the last 21, not a single goal in six successive defeats and no victory since the opening day of the season.

For most of the afternoon it was as if signing two Argentinians had never even been dreamed of. Carlos Tevez, a gifted little forward in search of a role, was injured playing for his country against Spain in midweek and will not be available until next weekend. His countryman Javier Mascherano came unscathed through the international but was left on the substitutes' bench until the 87th minute, when the game was lost.

Alan Pardew reverted to last season's look without managing to rediscover the vitality and vim that earned ninth place in the Premiership and an FA Cup final appearance. "The players are not too down, but we need a little break," he said after the match. "You need to close ranks and not panic."

Redknapp sportingly added his encouragement to a fellow manager under pressure at his old club, however bitter he feels about the ruthless manner of his sacking at Upton Park four years ago. There was no love lost, however, on the pitch or in the stands, with police moving into the open end to eject a visiting supporter or two, and Graham Poll flourishing eight yellow cards. Four of them were shown in the first 25 minutes, by which time tensions had been heightened by a Portsmouth goal. Manuel Fernandes, marking his Premiership debut with some deft touches in midfield, fed Johnson for a cross that found Nwankwo Kanu easily losing his marker, Anton Ferdinand, for a header of no great power but sufficient accuracy to carry past Roy Carroll. The goalkeeper protested in vain that an arm was involved.

It was the second incident involving Carroll on which Poll was forced to adjudicate, the first having been more unusual. Early on, he miskicked horribly when taking a goal-kick, sending the ball only a couple of yards, and in something of a panic, played it a second time as a hopeful Portsmouth attacker homed in. Poll correctly ruled that the kick, having not cleared the penalty area, should be retaken.

There was a more serious escape for the visitors when Fernandes set up Pedro Mendes for one of his thunderous 25-yard efforts. This one took a deflection off Hayden Mullins, earning no more than an unproductive corner. Then Kanu twice miscued badly when well placed, the first time after a poor clearance by Ferdinand's partner, Danny Gabbidon.

Paul Konchesky's fierce low drive 10 minutes into the second half required a fine low save by James just inside a post. It was the visitors' first real threat, and Portsmouth, much livelier, deserved to have doubled their lead after 65 minutes. Carroll turned Matthew Taylor's wickedly curling free-kick for a corner, from which he had to save Dejan Stefanovic's shot after a header by Campbell was cleared off the line.

Four new strikers replaced the original quartet and in keeping with what had gone before, Portsmouth's made by far the greater impression. Lomana LuaLua went close in a swift break and eight minutes from the end came the decisive moment. Cole, who had replaced Benjani Mwaruwari, played a clever one-two with Taylor, held off Jonathan Spector's tackle as the crowd appealed for a penalty and swivelled superbly to shoot past Carroll. Only the goalkeeper's feet prevented LuaLua adding a third, which would have been a little flattering to the home side, however well the majority of their players had served them.

A series of difficult away games, beginning at Chelsea on Saturday, means Portsmouth may need to keep winning at their rickety old fortress. West Ham would just settle for a goal.

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel: