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You wait all season for a penalty and then get one just when you need it the most. Matty Taylor was the coolest man on the pitch with just three minutes of ordinary time left, tucking his penalty into the bottom of the net to send the fratton faithful home in ecstasy.

Pompey were forced to play without Lua Lua and Mendes again against Sunderland, both failing fitness tests and O’Neil only just making the cut after pain-killing injections in his foot.

The game was as predicted, Pompey making all the running and Sunderland playing a relaxed brand of football only the already doomed can play. Pompey had the lion’s share of possession but lacked the nous to unlock a stubborn Sunderland defence who stuck to their task with some credit, Ball had definitely not prepared his side to roll over. Benjani had Pompey’s two best chances of the half, Davis blocking one close range effort well. And heading weakly wide from a free-kick.

The second-half started in the same theme, Pompey were playing like they were a goal down with five minutes to play, charging forward and leaving chasms at the back, Sunderland finally exploited this by taking the lead on 70 minutes through Tommy Miller who had the simple task of tapping in from close range. The lead was short lived however, Todorov who had missed a gilt-edged chance at the start of the half, twisted and turned in the box and curled a beauty into the top corner past Kelvin Davis’ despairing dive. Pompey buoyed by their equaliser, pushed on for the winner but again no telling pass or cross would come, with three minutes of normal time remaining, Pompey found their Knight in shining armour, Kevin Kyle inexplicably decide to flick his arm at a high ball and referee Mike Dean did what 34 other referee’s had not this season and pointed to the spot for a life saving penalty. Matt Taylor held of the argument from Todorov and Benjani and buried the ball into the grateful Fratton end.

Two games to go, two points clear. West Brom look sunk, Birmingham remain in the fight, it’s a two horse race now and Pompey are leading by a lenghth, the finishing line is in sight and Wigan and Liverpool are our remaining hurdles, one supreme push for end and we can plan for another season at the highest level. Newcastle can play a massive part in our plans yet by making it six on the bounce in their quest for Europe, this time next week could see us safe or back in the zone, let’s hope the Pompey soap opera has a happy finale and not a dramatic failure.

Play up Pompey

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday April 23 2006

Time: 1:20PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
time to take 6000 to wigan and put the matter to bed
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23/04/2006 18:28:00

how many points you recon needed? i recon 4
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23/04/2006 18:35:00

4 should do it, can't see brum winning both games
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23/04/2006 18:40:00

I don't think Brum will win either of there remaining games. Newcastle & Bolton aren't easy and both looking for Europe.
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23/04/2006 19:00:00

yer few weeks ago i said that their last two had nothing to play for, they do now
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23/04/2006 19:32:00

Same goes for Wigan...not sure what side will turn out for Liverpool though now that they have that Cup Final date. It would be nice to be safe ahead of that Liverpool match but I have my doubts.
Report Abuse
23/04/2006 23:02:00

The very last thing i'd want is to be HAVING to get something from the Liverpool game. Whatever side they put out, it won't be easy.
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23/04/2006 23:49:00

Looks like you're about to seal the great escape for this season, as a Birmingham fan I'm all but resigned to us playing in the fizzy pop league next season. Could bleat on about injuries, could bleat on about bad luck, not forgetting the help you've had from others (daft handballs in the last minute, weakened Boro team, sure Liverpool will weaken theirs too now!!) but when alls said and done, both Pompey and Blues would not be in this position if the same bunch of players had decided to play from day 1 instead of only for the last month or two of the season. I dont honestly believe we deserve to stay up from how we've played this year, and I dont think we will.
Report Abuse
24/04/2006 08:26:00

6 weeks ago we were dead and buried lil, and we were (mostly) thinking the same way. It's not over yet.
Report Abuse
24/04/2006 09:22:00

I'll re-make my comments next week then, after the next round of games! You should be 3 or maybe 5 points ahead by then!!
Report Abuse
24/04/2006 11:31:00

I hope Lil isn't that fat lady....but if she starts singing next saturday night we could be safe !!
Report Abuse
25/04/2006 05:45:00

Never thought of it like that gray. Well.... if you are lil, then may i invite you to start clearing your throat please? :)
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25/04/2006 11:17:00

" so glad you won- and i hope that you stay up"
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25/04/2006 16:37:00

cheers me too
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25/04/2006 22:33:00

Why is that millers? Do you not like brum or summink?
Report Abuse
26/04/2006 02:04:00

sounds like a fix to me, just a little bit too much of a coincidence!
Report Abuse
26/04/2006 10:38:00


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