Portsmouth v Latics
Paul Dickov has long maintained the harder you work, the luckier you get and Latics certainly deserved the slice of fortune which earned their first npower League One win of the season.
A dangerous cross from Jonathan Grounds brought about the Johnny Ertl’s own- goal decider as Latics picked up three valuable points at Portsmouth where they produced a battling and spirited display.
After a difficult week for Latics, both on and off the field, the victory at Fratton Park was the perfect pick me up after a disappointing start to the campaign.
It was a much-improved display as Latics showed mettle and displayed the passion and commitment which had been scrutinised.
Latics’ manager said: “I am really proud of my players because a lot of questions have been asked of them this week.
“When that happens, the best way is to put in a performance and show how together we are and how determined we were to get a result.
“I thought we defended fantastically well because not many teams will win at Portsmouth. It was pleasing to keep a clean sheet against a good set of players Michael (Appleton) has brought in.
“And the move for our goal was fantastic and some of the football we played, and the way we mixed it up, was a lot better than we have been doing recently.”
Dickov was especially pleased with the contributions of wide players Cristian Montano and Lee Croft as Latics triumphed at Fratton Park for the first time since their 1990/91 promotion-winning campaign to the top flight.
The only dampeners was striker Jordan Slew suffering a recurrence of a back strain in his comeback game while Cliff Byrne was sent off, though Latics are considering an appeal claiming he was a victim of mistaken identity.
Latics’ manager made two changes from the team beaten at home by Stevenage one week earlier as Connor Brown was handed his full debut while Slew returned after injury as James Tarkowski and Carl Winchester stood down.
Dickov explained he chose right-back Brown because he wanted another attacking outlet while Byrne was switched to the centre of defence to provide extra experience.
Latics made a slow start and it was a case of them gradually growing into the game. Once they did, however, they had spells when they controlled the game posing problems for the hosts.
Early on there were some anxious moments as Pompey carved out three chances in the opening five minutes, keeper Alex Cisak making one excellent save to deny Jordan Obita who burst clean through.
Latics suffered an early setback when Slew limped off midway through the opening period to be replaced by Matt Smith.
There were further goalscoring opportunities at both ends in what was a lively opening period.
Croft and Jean-Yves M’voto, who was a rock-solid pillar at the back, had clear-cut chances while Cisak pulled off further important stops to claw out Brian Howard’s header and keep out Liam Walker’s free kick.
Latics had their best spell of the opening period in the final five minutes when Montano’s shot was deflected narrowly wide. From the resulting corner, M’voto’s header was parried by keeper Mikkel Andersen and this was followed by a goalmouth scramble in which several shots were blocked.
They continued where they let off at the restart as Montano shot narrowly wide and then strike the inside of the upright after being released by Croft.
The breakthrough came on the hour when Grounds fired over a low cross from the left and debut-making Ertl, desperately trying to clear, only succeeded in diverting the ball past Andersen. Robbie Simpson is pictured celebrating the goal with Smith.
Both sides were reduced to ten men midway through the half as Obita and Byrne were controversially dismissed.
Obita reacted angrily to having his shirt pulled by Brown which caused the flashpoint and the Pompey forward was immediately sent off by referee Carl Berry.
It was only after the intervention of the fourth official, who summoned Mr Berry to the touchline, that Byrne, who was nowhere near the initial incident, was also dismissed.
Latics brought on centre-back Tarkowski to reinforce their defence while striker Robbie Simpson was sacrificed. The teenager was solid as a rock in the final quarter of the game as Pompey pressed for an equaliser.
They defended so well that Pompey were restricted to only two meaningful chances late in the game when Cisak pulled off super stops to deny substitutes Ashley Harris and Luke Rodgers.
It was job well done for Latics who gave their large away following plenty to cheer as the new tangerine kit also made a winning debut.
Portsmouth (4-5-1): Andersen; Dumbuya, Connolly, Ertl (Rodgers 83), Harley; Obita, Walker, Howard, Walker (Harris 76), Russell, Compton. Subs (not used): Eastwood, Clifford, Webster.
Latics (4-4-2): Cisak; Brown, Byrne, M’voto, Grounds; Croft, Furman, M’Changama, Montano; Slew (Smith 73), Simpson (Tarkowski 66). Subs (not used): Bouzanis, Taylor, Millar, Hughes, Winchester.
The goal: Ertl (60 own goal) for Latics.
Sendings off: Obita (64) for Portsmouth. Byrne (64) for Latics.
Bookings: Howard (73) for Portsmouth. M’voto (34), Smith (42), Grounds (74), Brown (77) for Latics.
Referee: Mr C Berry.
Attendance: 12, 635.