Monday 23 October 2017

Classy James helps put smiles on Pompey faces

Portsmouth 3
Wolves 1

Jamie Jackson

The only story from a game that meant sweet Football Association unless you were a supporter of either team was the form of David James, so close to the World Cup.

The 39-year-old's reflexes are razor sharp, as was his sense of humour when standing in front of the Wolves faithful for the second half.

James had styled his hair for this encounter as if 10,000 watts were being channelled through it, causing the travelling support to regale him with: "There's only one Tina Turner"; "Tina for England"; and, finally, "Tina is a Wolves fan", when the 'keeper took up the offer to give them a wave.

It will be word of his saves, though, that should reach Fabio Capello, the England manager, on the bush telegraph. He required 15 minutes to produce his first effort, diving to his left before palming away a curving David Jones free-kick.

This presaged Portsmouth taking the lead. Michael Brown's free-kick found an unmarked Aruna Dindane, who ran beyond the slumbering Wolves defence to head past Marcus Hahnemann.

Now it was the turn of the gathered Pompey masses' own choice chants. One went: "You can stick the Premier League up your arse"; another was the rather optimistic: "We're all going on a European tour".

The chances of the FA Cup finalists taking up a Europa League berth next season are, of course, slim, due to the Premier League and FA refusing them a late application to gain a Uefa licence.

James, though, is guaranteed the trip to South Africa for the World Cup and by the close of the half he had again illustrated why. First Geoffrey Mujangi Bia drew a sharp close-range block, before James saved superbly from Ronald Zubar then Kevin Doyle, though the latter managed to force the ball home.

Wolves' parity lasted just four minutes. To John Utaka's sliding finish, and Brown's 67th-minute strike, Mick McCarthy's insipid team had no reply.

However, the Wolves manager was, owing to his team's secured Premier League status, in more relaxed mood than might have been expected regarding the defeat.

"Our performance was one step back from what we have been producing," McCarthy said. "I don't like getting beat but I can forgive the players a dip in performance. They have been tight as piano wire for 36 games."

Next up for Wolves on the season's final day is Sunderland. Portsmouth, meanwhile, have Everton, then the FA Cup final against Chelsea in a fortnight. Asked about his future yet again, Avram Grant said: "We need stability at the club before I can say."


Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport