Portsmouth 1 Wigan 0

  • By: Bill Pierce, PA Sport
  • Last Updated: October 8 2012, 20:03 BST

Benjani Mwaruwari's second goal of the season shot Portsmouth to the top of the Premiership with their third win in four games - and no goals against.

Taylor wins the ball from Boyce.

But their fans were dealt a measure of realism by a non-vintage performance against dogged Wigan who could easily have taken a point - or even won.

They were on top in a poor game until four minutes after the interval when Benjani - who scored only once last season after a club record £4.4 million move from Auxerre - raced onto a monster header from Sol Campbell, outpaced two defenders and drilled a shot in off a post.

Pompey, urged on by a roaring crowd, could have added two or three more after that but ended up hanging on against Wigan's gallant fightback.

The first half was instantly forgettable. Pompey's shotgun start to the season seemed to fizzle out in the face of stern resistance from a solid Wigan defence and a battling midfield in which newcomers Denny Landzaat and Louis Antonio Valencia were impressive.

Arjan de Zeeuw, the former Pompey captain who led Wigan to a splendid top 10 finish in their maiden Premiership campaign, controlled everything around him - just as the outstanding Primus and Campbell did at the other end.

But although the veteran Portsmouth pair kept Emile Heskey on a tight leash they were constantly looking for the fleet-footed Henri Camara who twice broke through with his electric pace.

He hooked his first chance over the bar after twisting and turning to meet a nudge-on from keeper Kirkland's long clearance and then was robbed by Pedro Mendes when just about to pull the trigger for a shot at David James after another solo burst.

Pompey's only real reply was a surging run by the returning Glen Johnson which ended with a low cross that just eluded Matt Taylor's late run into the area.

Redknapp kept his three deadline-day signings under wraps - no place even on the bench for unfit Andy Cole, Croatian midfielder Nikola Kranjcar and on-loan Cameroon winger Roudolphe Douala - and strikers Kanu and Benjani had to drop deep in search of possession.

But Pompey's performance visibly lifted after Benjani's strike early in the second half. Campbell started it with a firm header to deliver Kirkland's goalkick back into the keeper's own half where Benjani outpaced Emerson Boyce and Fitz Hall to fire home.

Only a minute earlier Paul Scharner had headed just wide from a Valencia free kick and although skipper Dejan Stefanovic and strangely quiet midfielder Gary O'Neil both went close with headers, Camara was always a lively threat at the other end.

Campbell barged him over after a mix-up in the Pompey defence but referee Peter Walton ruled the challenge was fair and David James, after two frightening errors when he spilled Camara's shot and then came for a corner and got nowhere near, saved Pompey at the end, defying Camara and Scharner.

In a typically frantic Fratton finish substitute Lomana Lualua, back from injury, for the first time since April, hit a post and forced a fine save from Kirkland.

But it was Pompey's defence which earned the laurels.

Teams

Portsmouth James, Johnson, Primus, Campbell,Stefanovic (Pamarot 66), O'Neil, Davis,Pedro Mendes (Thompson 86), Taylor, Mwaruwari, Kanu (LuaLua 76).

Subs Not Used: Kiely, Koroman.

Goals: Mwaruwari 49.

Wigan Kirkland, Boyce, De Zeeuw, Hall, Baines, Valencia,Scharner, Landzaat, Teale (Cotterill 78), Heskey,Camara (Johansson 90).

Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Jackson, Skoko.

Booked: Hall.

Att: 19,508

Ref: P Walton (Northamptonshire).