A last-minute header from Wayne Collins shattered Portsmouth’s stubborn resistance at Craven Cottage this evening and lifted Fulham to fourth in the First Division table.

It looked as if Paul Bracewell’s side would have to settle for a point after another frustrating ninety minutes following a disappointing home draw with Norwich City and defeat on the road at Stockport County last week. But a period of late pressure paid dividends after Pompey goalkeeper Andy Pettersen had made two excellent saves to keep the home side at bay.

Portsmouth’s preparation for this fixture was hardly ideal. The visitors arrived at the Cottage just half an hour ahead of kick off having been stuck in a London traffic jam for more than an hour and they were forced to complete all of their preparations on the pitch. They were penned back for much of the first half, with Danny Cadamarteri – a scorer on his debut at Edgeley Park – spurning two good chances to open the scoring inside the first 25 minutes. He volley weakly wide after being left completely free by the Pompey defence when picked out by his strike partner Karl-Heinz Riedle and then shot past the post from seventeen yards.

The travelling supporters offered ironic cheers when Pompey forced their first corner of the evening four minutes before the break. Steve Claridge almost gave them a shock lead with a downward header in the dying embers of the first half, but that would have been completely against the run of play. Portsmouth were much improved after the interval as Maik Taylor somehow smothered a shot from Fitzroy Simpson when it seemed simpler to score following a classy Claridge backheel before Jason Crowe volleyed wide after a flowing move down the left wing.

Cadamarteri seemed destined not to trouble the scorers when he beat Pettersen with a rising drive from twelve yards out but was denied by the crossbar. Fulham continued to huff and puff without extending the Pompey goalkeeper and were fortunate that Lee Bradbury fired wide after finding space in the home penalty area. They poured forward in the closing stages, with Pettersen saving brilliantly from Riedle and Cadamarteri before substitute Collins headed home from close range after a goalmouth scramble.

FULHAM (5-3-2): Taylor; Uhlenbeek, Brevett (W. Collins 54), Coleman, Symons, Melville; Trollope, Hayward, Clark; Riedle, Cadamarteri. Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Morgan, Davis, Selley.

BOOKED: Riedle, Cadamarteri.

GOAL: W. Collins (89).

PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2): Pettersen; Awford, Crowe, Robinson, Whitbread; Panapoulos, Waterman, Simpson, Holbrook; Claridge (Lovell 80), Bradbury. Subs (not used): Flahavan, Paramot, Whittingham, Phillips.

REFEREE: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).