Hart muffles Pompey chimes

HARD graft has been the secret behind Portsmouth’s success under Paul Hart, and the club’s caretaker manager has no intention of easing off simply because safety is, at last, in sight.

Hart — who has collected 13 points from his eight matches in charge — insists they must target a return from Wednesday’s daunting trip to Manchester United as they seek to secure their top-flight status.

Kanu claimed his first league goal of the season in the 78th minute on Saturday after blocking off Bolton’s heroic goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and applying a final touch to Belhadj’s viciously inswinging corner.

It gives Pompey 37 points with just six games to go, seemingly out of reach of the bottom three, but with the next three games against United, Newcastle and Arsenal, Hart insists the job is far from complete.

“If you can hazard a guess where it will all end up you are a better man than me,” he said. “We could possibly be needing 40 points but I think there’s no reason we can’t go to Old Trafford, make their life very difficult and get something.

“I just want us to get our heads down again and carry on. If you just think about the last result you’ll get nowhere except an early grave.

“We’ve just tried to be tough to beat and I think I can honestly say we could have won every one of the eight games I’ve been manager.

“And now we are not going anywhere just to lie down. Don’t get me wrong, Manchester United are the best team in the world but there’s no way we are going there and rolling over — I hope.”

Bolton manager Gary Megson echoed Hart’s caution surrounding his team’s survival hopes.

“Last year people said we were gone after a 4-0 defeat (at Aston Villa) left us in the bottom three with five games to go, but we won three and drew two to get out of trouble and there is always the fear somebody else could do that,” he said.

“We’ve just got to make sure we are not the ones who get caught.”

PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2): James 7, Kaboul 7 (Pennant 90, 5), Campbell 7, Distin 7, Hreidarsson 6, Johnson 8, Davis 7, Mullins 6, Nugent 5 (Kanu 71, 6), Kranjcar 6 (Belhadj 77, 5), Crouch 6.

Subs Not Used: Begovic, Pamarot, Utaka, Hughes.

BOLTON: Jaaskelainen 7, Steinsson 6, A O’Brien 6, Cahill 6, Samuel 6, Basham 5, McCann 5, Gardner 5 (Muamba 12, 6), K Davies 6, Elmander 5, Taylor 6.

Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Hunt, Smolarek, Puygrenier, Makukula, Cohen.

REFEREE: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire) 6: Some untidy tackles, especially Gavin McCann’s on Nico Kranjcar, but he dealt with things authoritatively.

MATCH RATING: *** Pompey were bright, purposeful and fully worth the victory.


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