Heskey rides Wigan's luck to give Adams back trouble
Portsmouth 1 Wigan Athletic 2
Tony Adams is a methodical man but after two games in official charge of Portsmouth he will hope to soon have a bit more good fortune than he has currently enjoyed.
For the second consecutive match, after defeat at Liverpool last Wednesday, Pape Bouba Diop gave away a penalty, converted here by Amr Zaki.
Adams, in his managerial home debut, having taken over from Harry Redknapp, also saw his players hit the frame of the goal four times and although the hosts drew level through Niko Kranjcar, Emile Heskey stole the points two minutes into injury time. "I had to go berserk, I went nuts," confessed Adams. "I kicked a few bottles in the dressing room, but I was delighted with the effort."
For Wigan, this result in the incessant rain brought sweet relief, ending a run of four consecutive defeats. But Steve Bruce, the Latics' manager, has probably used up a season's worth of luck on the south coast. Added to the crossbar that he would probably like transplanted to the JJB Stadium, was an excellent close-range save by Chris Kirkland and a couple of goalline clearances.
But Bruce felt he had a result coming against Adams. He reminded everyone that Adams had long denied him an England call-up when he was in his pomp at Manchester United. "He stopped me getting a couple of England caps," pondered Bruce, tongue only partly in cheek. This was some small way of redressing the balance.
He also contemplated Adams taking the helm at Portsmouth – two games, zero points – and when prompted to offer encouragement, he said: "Welcome to the wonderful world of management. He must be nuts."
Nuts or not, Adams had been seeking to make the step up from under Redknapp, whose move to Tottenham precipitated Adams' promotion. He has stepped out of the shade and into the bright glare of trying to explain players giving away needless penalties and days when no matter what you try, nothing seems to work.
Adams restored Jermain Defoe, having dropped him against Liverpool, and was able to call on Kranjcar for the second half. But defensive matters naturally weigh heavily on Adams' mind, given his starred playing career for Arsenal and England, and he hopes this week to convince his former team-mate at Highbury, Martin Keown, to be part of his coaching staff.
The sequence of bad luck started after 20 minutes, when Peter Crouch headed on to the bar. Soon after Defoe earned a corner and from the set-piece, Diop's header was cleared off the line by Wilson Palacios. Adams' jaw would drop even lower in the second half when in the space of 60 seconds, Glen Johnson then Crouch again hit the bar.
Wigan, by having only Zaki up front, had fewer goal-scoring chances, but the Egyptian, after Diop's lunge on Titus Bramble, calmly converted his eighth League goal of the season. The second half saw Pompey press forward only to be denied time and again, and finally Kranjcar's shot did bring them level only for Heskey to end Adams' home debut on a sour note.