Date:Friday March 31 2006
To read Part 1 Click Here
Survival – Part 2
Table as at 31/3/2006
West Brom 31-27 (-19)
Birmingham 30-24 (-21)
Pompey 30-24 (-27)
Sunderland 31-10 (-36)
As we enter the month of April, Pompey’s chances of survival have been enhanced somewhat following successive back to back wins over Man.City and West Ham. A rain hit Fratton Park in the last week-end of March has pushed another fixture into the already congested April programme, in what promises to be a very busy and nervous month for Pompey fans.
April commences with a tricky fixture at the Fulham stronghold of Craven Cottage. It is a fiercely contested affair, given that Fulham are not yet safe, and that Pompey are fighting for survival. Half-Time passes with the game goalless. The second half opens up more, as the nerves of the opening 45 minutes are eased. As the game seems more and more like becoming a draw, a cross from Priske is suddenly deflected into the path of the advancing Benjani who nails it from close range. Pompey fans are jubilant but must wait anxiously for a further 10 minutes, absorbing constant pressure from the Cottagers. The whistle sounds and it’s 3 wins on the trot, with Benjani’s first strike for the club. And what an important one it could be. Results elsewhere are also encouraging as the early game sees Chelsea in a 2-0 win over Birmingham, whilst the home fans are calling for Bruce’s head. West Brom fight hard against Liverpool but a late Peter Crouch header resigns the Baggies to another 2-1 defeat. Sunderland also go down 3-1 at Everton’s Goodison Park.
Birmingham are back in the hunt with a crucial 1-0 win over Bolton. Steve Bruce claps the fans in irony, as in the event of a loss tonight they may well have shown him the exit door.
Pompey’s run of wins comes to an end after the Blackburn game finishes all square at 1-1. Harry Redknapp takes comfort from the fact that Pompey put in a solid performance against one of the leagues form sides. Birmingham are still causing concerns as they graft out a 1-1 draw at Wigan.
The result we didn’t want as West Brom secure a vital away win, against local rival Aston Villa 2-1. Sunderland are relegated despite a 1-1 draw with Fulham.
West Brom 33-30 (-19)
Pompey 32-28 (-26)
Birmingham 33-28 (-22)
Sunderland 33-11 (-38)
Following Arsenal’s progress to the Semi Finals of the Champions League Pompey will now host the Gunners on this Tuesday. It is a hard fought affair, but Pompey cannot make headway and Arsenal prove too classy with a well drilled outfit, as we go down 1-0. We also miss a couple of chances. There are injury worries for O’Neill and Davis. Two days later Sunderland fail to pick up points at Old Trafford in a 2-0 defeat, although their matches are irrelative now to their survival.
Pompey are back to winning ways with a thrilling 3-2 win over Middlesborough. Goals from Benjani, and another Mendes double see Pompey come back after trailing twice, whilst a result elsewhere has gone our way. Arsenal thump West Brom 4-1 which effectively puts us out of the drop zone for the first time in months.
The grudge match between bitter local rivals Aston Villa and Birmingham finishes all square at 0-0. Both sets of fans invade the pitch, and many arrests are made.
Pompey return to London and capture 3 more precious points in their bid to stay in the Premiership, this time at the expense of Charlton. A goal either side of the break, one a penalty, is enough to see Harry’s boys home 2-0. Stefanovic receives a warm welcome from the fans as he plays out 45 minutes without any problems. West Brom are held at the Hawthorns by Bolton 1-1.
And so the Easter break has been reached, with only a handful of games to go the Table looks like this…
Table as at 17/4/2006
Pompey 35-34 (-24)
West Brom 35-31 (-22)
Birmingham 34-29 (-22)
Sunderland 35-12 (-40)
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