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Life sweeter for Allardyce after Bolton victory

Portsmouth's Lomana Tresor LuaLua, left, jumps to head the ball with the Bolton Wanderers' Abdoulaye Faye during their English Premier League soccer m...

Portsmouth's Lomana Tresor LuaLua, left, jumps to head the ball with the Bolton Wanderers' Abdoulaye Faye during their English Premier League soccer m...

Sam Allardyce admitted Bolton's narrow 1-0 victory over Portsmouth at Fratton Park here on Monday was one of the sweetest of his managerial career.
Kevin Nolan's first half opener proved the difference as Bolton hung on to claim sixth place in the Premiership in the face of waves of Pompey possession which saw the losers concede their first goal of the campaign.
Pompey's Zimbabwean striker Benjani was guilty of two glaring misses and Sean Davis struck a post in the first five minutes as Harry Redknapp's men failed to reclaim top spot in the Premiership from Chelsea.
Allardyce said it was the perfect antidote to what had been a trying week with a BBC documentary alleging that he accepted bungs from agents for transfers - something which has seen him sue the broadcaster.
"It has been an emotional week and this meant a lot to me because of what has gone on and because it is our first away win since December.
"We have not won since a 4-0 win away at Everton so that is particularly pleasing.
"We are short on numbers but not short on spirit. The commitment from the players is what we are all about," Allardyce said. "Every Premiership game is emotionally exhausting but this one was a little bit more than usual."
Sol Campbell's early header, which flew wide of Jussi Jaaskelainen's far post off a Matt Taylor corner, heralded a first half of attacking dominance from the unlikely Premiership pacesetters.
Long ball approach
Jaaskelainen was fortunate when Davis hit the post following a perfect knock-down from Benjani but the Finnish international pulled off one of the saves of the season denying Taylor's well placed volley on 19 minutes.
Inevitably it was Bolton that took the lead completely against the run of play and with a trademark long ball approach.
Tal Ben Haim's lofted free kick was headed away by Linvoy Primus only to find Kevin Nolan on the edge of the area and the midfielder wasted no time in dispatching a volley into the far corner of David James' net.
The goal was met with a collective hush around Fratton Park, not just because it went against the balance of the game but also because it was the first conceded by Pompey in 472 minutes of Premiership football this season.
The home side continued to press for the equalizer it probably deserved before half time but Jasskelainen denied both Dejan Stefanovic and Davis as Pompey were doing everything but scoring.
The second period lacked the verve and pace the first gave the crowd, as Bolton held strong in the face of Pompey's continued dominance.
Benjani was guilty of the miss of the game when put through and despite his recent good form blasted the ball high and wide and a good five yards from Jasskelainen's goal.
Late efforts from Johnson and Campbell kept the home crowd vibrant but both Faye and Abdoulaye Meite were too big and too strong for any clear cut chances to be fashioned.
It proved to be a less than fitting farewell for departing chairman Milan Mandaric who ended his seven-year association with the club following the summer takeover by Alexandre Gaydamak.
Pompey boss Harry Redknapp - who was also mentioned in the documentary - said he thought the defeat would not sour Mandaric's memories of his time at the helm.
"I think Milan will be happy with what he has achieved. I do not think he would have thought he would leave the club second in the Premiership," said Redknapp.


Updated : 2021-10-28 10:14 GMT+08:00