Rees fires new start

Grimsby 0 Portsmouth 1 (Rees 45) Attendance:4,747
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The Independent Online
One moment of individual sorcery exploiting defensive hesitancy by Grimsby was enough to exorcise the demons of Portsmouth's indifferent start to the season. Terry Venables, though, will need to brandish his wand liberally to convert the workmanlike into the magical in his role as director of football.

It was a win built on graft, Portsmouth weathering the home side's first- half squall and clinging dearly to their lead. While Grimsby created and wasted a succession of chances on the back of their imposing physical threat, Portsmouth's one clear first-half opportunity was neatly converted. Deon Burton sensed a breakdown in communication between Richard Smith and Kingsley Black, and tip-toed through the static Grimsby ranks to bear down on goal. Sacrificing personal glory, Burton drew the keeper before gifting Jason Rees with a simple score.

The Grimsby manager, Brian Laws, is worried that defensive errors have repeatedly denied his side early points. "We are making silly mistakes and it cost us the game. Perhaps we weren't positive enough at the back. We are a quiet side and it is something I don't like," he confessed.

Portsmouth were the more organised of the two sides but failed to supply their pacey attackers in the first half. As Grimsby pressed more frantically in the second period, openings became more frequent. However, it was the heroics of the central-defender Guy Butters and the goalkeeper Alan Knight, replacing the suspended Aaron Slahavan, which kept the home side at bay.

Knight was stranded when an unchallenged Richard Smith header was directed against the bar, but acrobatically tipped over the subsequent dipping shot from the same player. Clive Mendonca, who had scored in the four previous games this season, sliced wide, and Paul Trollope, on-loan from Derby, was off balance when he drifted an equally acceptable opportunity off target.

The Portsmouth manager, Terry Fenwick, was satisfied with his side's display: "We started shakily but defensively I thought we were very good. We finished stronger in the first half and had good chances on the break. It can be better, and it will be better."

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