Mark Hughes made copious notes in the Fratton Park sunshine as he watched his Fulham side lose 1-0 at Portsmouth in their penultimate pre-season friendly yesterday afternoon.
The new Fulham manager saw a strong side dominate the early stages of Linvoy Primus’ testimonial, when a Bobby Zamora chip was scrambled off the line, but fade badly after the first twenty minutes. The home side, preparing for life in the Championship after a traumatic season last year, secured a morale-boosting win thanks to Marc Wilson’s fine header shortly after the half hour. The kind of slack marking that will greatly exasperate Hughes should it be repeated come August 14 at Bolton allowed Wilson to escape Brede Hangeland’s attentions and power home Matt Ritchie’s corner.
Zamora went close on a couple of occassions, twice being denied by Jamie Ashdown in the Portsmouth goal, but the pace of the game slowed dramatically after a host of substitutions around the hour mark. Ray Lewington’s latest firefighting role ends in defeat, the first he had suffered in five games since Roy Hodgson’s departure in early July.
Hughes is rumoured to be looking at bringing in several signings to bolster the squad before the start of the season, with Craig Bellamy being heavily tipped to head to Craven Cottage if he agrees to a substantial cut in his current wages. On this evidence, Fulham certainly will need some more firepower up front.
Hughes will take charge of new charges for the first time when Fulham conclude their pre-season programme with their only home friendly of the summer, against Werder Bremen, on Saturday afternoon.
PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2): Ashdown; Mullins, Ritchie, Sonko, Wilson (Gregory 60); Brown, Primus (Kanu 12; Pack 74), R. Hughes (Ciftci 68), Smith; Nugent (Martin 81), Utaka (Boateng 62). Sub (not used): O’Brien.
GOAL: Wilson (31).
FULHAM (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Pantsil (Stoor 60), Konchesky (Kelly 60), A. Hughes, Hangeland; Baird (Dikgacoi 60), Murphy (Greening 75), Davies, Duff (Dempsey 60); Gera (E. Johnson 45); Zamora (Riise 75). Sub (not used): Stockdale.
REFEREE: Iain Williamson (Berkshire).