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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Coleman: Antti and Zat 'my hero's'

Fulham manager Chris coleman was happy with his two hero's Zat knight and 'goalkeeping soon to be Fulham legend' Antti Niemi after holding off Pompey to earn a draw at Fratton park.

Knight headed Fulham in front with his first goal since May 2005, and only his third for the club, 12 minutes after the break and largely tamed Kanu. But it was Niemi who stole the show with a string of saves which denied Kanu, Lomana LuaLua and substitute Benjani Mwaruwari until another substitute, the veteran Andy Cole, came up with a highly contentious 74th-minute equaliser.

Coleman, whose side also survived Pompey's Sean Davis, Noe Pamarot and Linvoy Primus all hitting the frame of their goal, said: 'Antti's shot-stopping was superb. I think his form gets better the older he gets. He pulled off two or three fantastic saves against Portsmouth and I didn't think he was going to be beaten.

'I thought any goal they scored would be a controversial one and unfortunately it was. But Antti's consistency is fantastic.'

Cole stabbed the ball across the line in a hectic goalmouth scramble but Fulham claimed Niemi had been fouled by Kanu. The Nigerian was lucky not to have been penalised for kicking the ball out of the Finnish goalkeeper's hands and he then appeared to hold Niemi back as Cole flicked home. It was no more than Portsmouth deserved.

The 6ft 5in Knight was dropped by Coleman for a spell last season after breaking club rules on socialising too close to match day but he did regain his place at the start of the season. Coleman said: 'Zat has matured a bit from last season. He took his foot off the gas once he got into the England squad last season and tended to relax a bit.

'But he's found out you can't afford to do that and since pre-season he's been magnificent, his concentration in training has been tip-top.'

Fulham now have the same amount of away points - seven - as they accumulated all last season. Their 4-5-1 style is not pretty to watch but it is effective and they have not lost an away game since their opening day 5-1 defeat at Manchester United.

'We're doing well but it is fine with me that other people are not really talking about us,' Coleman said. 'We have changed everything about the way we approach away matches. The time we arrive in the dressing room, the times when we eat, the time when I give my team talk. It is all different to last season and it is paying off.'

ortsmouth, meanwhile, fear their 'fantastic' on-loan full-back Glen Johnson will be out for a major part of the season if he has to have an operation on his torn thigh muscle. Chelsea, who have farmed out Johnson to Portsmouth for the season, will have the final say on whether he is to have surgery.

The defender went back to Stamford Bridge for treatment last week, and if an operation is necessary, it will redouble Redknapp's intention of moving back into the transfer market in January. The Frenchman Pamarot passed a late test on a hamstring injury to deputise efficiently against Fulham for Johnson, who also missed last week's 3-0 defeat at Manchester United.

Cole's 280th career goal in club football - and his second for Pompey - saved them a fifth defeat in seven games and spared some of Kanu's blushes after the striker fluffed a third-minute opportunity.

'We battered them,' said Redknapp, 'but Fulham's 4-5-1 system is hard to break down and it was one of those days when a goal wouldn't go in until Andy Cole came on and nicked one.

'He was a substitute again after a groin strain in the week but I don't see him as that. He's not started in the Premiership for us yet but he is keen to do so and I want that, too.

'We played well enough and it would have been a travesty if we had got nothing although we really needed three points instead of one.'

Goals: Knight (57) 0-1; Cole (74) 1-1.

Portsmouth (4-4-2): James; Pamarot, Primus, Campbell, Stefanovic; O'Neil (Thompson, 87), Davis, Pedro Mendes, Taylor (Cole, 66); Kanu (Mwaruwari, 83), LuaLua. Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), O'Brien.

Fulham (4-5-1): Niemi; Rosenior, Knight, Pearce, Queudrue; Boa Morte, Bocanegra, C Jensen (Diop, 86), Volz (Routledge, 79), Radzinski; McBride (John, 90). Substitutes not used: Lastuvka (gk), Helguson.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

Booked: Fulham Knight, Niemi, Queudrue.

Man of the match: Niemi.

Attendance: 19,563.




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The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday November 13 2006

Time: 11:19AM

Your Comments

And so he should be, Pompey's goal was never a goal, 2 points robbed!
Cravens
Reference your Poll. Where do Fulham need to strengthen. I cant knock your manager or your goalie. The rest of the team just need lifting. What Fulham need is Fans that stand out. Your Fans are *****e
Midge
Why oh why do we have to put up with other clubs fans thinking that they know better than us, muppets!
Cravens
Of course it was a goal. Niemi never claimed a foul when the ball went in. As for you being robbed, what game were you watching? And what about the no personal insults bits.
storagematt
Add to that the quotes that "He pulled off two or three fantastic saves against Portsmouth and I didn't think he was going to be beaten" and "Coleman, whose side also survived Pompey's Sean Davis, Noe Pamarot and Linvoy Primus all hitting the frame of their goal, said: 'Antti's shot-stopping was superb" My question is if his shot stopping was so superb how come he allowed us to hit the framework 3 times. Seems to me he either has eyes in the back of his head so he knew where the ball was going or he was just plain lucky this time. Remember when he turned out for the poor old Saints at Fratton he conceded 4. The lucky team on the day was NOT Pompey...as Tommy Trinder would have said about Fulham "You Lucky People"....
pompeygray
You took a pasting at pompey and sneaked out with a point!! Coleman is just trying to boost morale!!
BaldyYid
Kanu fouled Niemi inside the boz to the lead up to the Pompey goal, the goal-keeper should never be faoled, so that shouldn't have been a goal. But you had three other SITTERS that your team missed. So the game was DESERVEDLY a draw. So shut-up you Pompey fans and get on with your life, you boring, moaning old sods. you can't change what th score finished in the game, and sometimes you think that the ref should have given that or whatever, but at thge end of the day, Pompey are one point closer to safety in the premiership. Get over it and concentrate on your next game.
wei, wu and shu
Quote: Reference your Poll. Where do Fulham need to strengthen. I cant knock your manager or your goalie. The rest of the team just need lifting. What Fulham need is Fans that stand out. Your Fans are *****e Midge............. P!ss off back to your own site, and go and moan at someone there, coz we are SICK of you nutters from Pompey having a go at us.
wei, wu and shu
I'm not here to have a good but from where I sat on Saturday afternoon Fulham coming away from Fratton Park with a point was totally undeserved. Pompey should have won the game, Fulham stole a point. They came for a point and got a point so hats off in a way but to say you deserved a point... I don't think so...
pompeyrug
Quoting fellow fans who enter other friendly sites as 'nutters' is a bit over the top WEI, WU and SHU. If you chinese triplets don't behave yourselves you might get reported. For the moment I just give you a yellow card...o.k. cookie boys.
pompeygray
What do you mean by 'Chinese triplets'. I'm English. Look up Wei, wu and shu in Google, if you don't know what it means.
wei, wu and shu
Touched a nerve have we...............
storagematt
 

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