Date:Sunday April 23 2006
BACK TO IT
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
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