Saha extends brave Pompey's nightmare - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Saha extends brave Pompey's nightmare

Portsmouth 0 Everton 1: Hart's beleaguered side win plaudits for heart but defensive lapse allows Everton to inflict a seventh straight defeat

Portsmouth were clapped off the pitch, and why not after establishing a record which dates back to 1930 and was last achieved by Manchester United? Well, it is unusual for a team who have lost seven successive matches to be cheered to the rafters (they still have rafters at Fratton Park).

That was Portsmouth's reward after a defeat which makes theirs the worst start to a top-flight season since a relegation-bound United, in 1930-31, lost their opening 12. The ovation was not out of pity, but pride. Pompey dominated Everton for much of this match, playing well enough to suggest that not only will they avoid eclipsing United's mark, but they should also stay up.

To do so, though, they will, as Paul Hart said, have to stop "shooting ourselves in the foot". This was a reference to the moment's inattention in defence which enabled Louis Saha to score his seventh goal of a flourishing season after 42 minutes.

Thereafter Hart's beleaguered men hit the bar, had a header cleared off the line and forced excellent saves from Tim Howard. These matched an earlier effort which denied Aruna Dindane on his superb Premier League debut. Strong performances from Tommy Smith – such a clever player – along with Kevin Prince Boateng, Jamie O'Hara and Marc Wilson also augured well for Hart.

"We played tremendously well and in the second half we should have scored," said the manager. "Defensively I thought we were very sound and our forward play was excellent. If we play like that, we'll pick up."

Sylvain Distin, who left Fratton for Everton during the summer, said he had told the few of his former team-mates who remain: "You'll be all right if you play like that every week."

David Moyes was equally complimentary. "Paul's put a squad together at the last minute and he's doing a magnificent job with them, you can see that by the players' attitude. They gave him everything to the last minute."

The Everton manager was less kind about his own side. "We can play better. We've not hit the form I expect. We had luck on our side." Hart thought the result was less about fate than finesse. "You can talk about luck, but we should have finished better."

Dindane scuffed Pompey's first chance wide under pressure from Johnny Heitinga but he then brought a reflex fingertip save from Howard following a sublime pass from Smith.

Once behind, their chances came more frequently as Everton retreated. Tal Ben-Haim hit Howard's shoulder with a free header from six yards; Aaron Mokoena headed against the bar after Smith nodded a corner back; and Leighton Baines cleared Hassan Yebda's header off the line. Each of these chances, unusually for Everton, were conceded at set-pieces.

They did so because Younes Kaboul failed to cut out Heitinga's long pass and Anthony Vanden Borre failed to cover his centre-half, allowing Saha, having taken the pass on his chin, to expertly turn a shot past David James.

"It was not great play from Everton," moaned Hart. "If a ball travels 40 yards it should be dealt with." Moyes focused on the scorer. "Louis's a really good player, everyone knows that. If we get him on the pitch he will score goals. Louis worked really hard to get fit in pre-season and the goals are a reward for all that effort."

It was not an entirely isolated strike. James had to stick out a foot to prevent Marouane Fellaini heading in Leon Osman's 36th-minute chip and Smith cleared a Tim Cahill header off the line after 65 minutes.

Everton had by then lost Steven Pienaar, whose knee was bizarrely injured by a butt from his compatriot Mokoena. The damage is yet to be assessed, but Moyes was unhappy at the challenge.

Hart has more to worry about. On Friday the club's new owner, Sulaiman al-Fahim, pledged to back him and provide fresh funds. However, little of the promised £50 million will go on team-building and the club remain unstable, with the chief executive Peter Storrie hinting he may quit – which would at least slash the wage bill. On the pitch, though, there is hope – there are, after all, still 93 points to play for.

Attendance: 18,116

Referee: A Wiley

Man of the match: Smith

Match rating: 7/10

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week