The Fat Lady.... she is singing
Go out with a bang we said, let's get a win and make a fight of it we said, this is a MUST win we said, well bugger, Pompey went down the worst way possible, even the most blindly optimistic fan must have stepped through the gates of inferno after that match.
Let's face it, if you could sum Pompey's season up in one match this would be it, denied by an incompetent linesman in the first half, plenty of effort but little creativity, we conceded from a set-piece and lost to a sucker punch, sound familiar?
Pompey went with one up front again, a tactic I am not fond of, I'm sure Avram will say it was a front three, but Piquionne was by himself with Quincy and Dindane in wide positions, the diamond formation worked lovely when we had Benjani up front with pacy players in the team to support him, but Diop is a carthorse from midfield, not a Diarra or Muntari.
I am confident in the fact that 90% of people reding this have sen the game now, either live, both at the match or on telly, or on MOTD, you will know it was not much of a spectacle.
Pompey can not be accused of lack of effort, they cannot be accused of that for the most of the season, perspiration is there, inspiration is not. We as fans have been patient with is quite obviously a hamstrung side, quite a few pockets of turned on Mark Wilson of late, quite harsh when you consider he is still learning his trade, if Pompey still had Kaboul, distin or even the scrooge that is Campbell, he would of been eased into the defence at right back rather than pitched straight into the centre, his every mistake is highlighted, quite harsh on a young lad trying his best in dire circumstances.
Anyway, the first half was flat and devoid of quality, Pompey tried, Stoke contained and relied on set-pieces as we knew they would, Delap launching in bombs from the touchline and Sidibe and Fuller trying to force the ball home, that is their style, one I hate but for them it is effective and keeping them up.
20 minute passed befor a worthwhile effort on goal, Belhadj firing narrowly over with his right boot after cutting in.
Then came Piquionne's 'goal' he was played in and lifted over Sorensen, only for the the lino (is it the same one every week, short and dumpy?) to raise his flag.
Quincy showed moments of threat, but more often than not his secon touch was too heavy and he was dispossed, O'Hara was trying but was not finding his top form, and Diop was plodding as usual.
We took the lead however after Quincy managed to fire in a shot that Sorensen squirted out again, Piq got there first and forced home from a tight angle, we were one up in a game of little chances and half-time was approaching.
There was just time for James to keep out Tuncay and we could all have a bovril.
Second half and Pompey came out of the blocks flying, Kanu who had replaced goalscorer Piq won a corner after we bombed forward only for it to come to nothing.
Next up came Pompey's achilles heel moment, a corner came over and Huth got up above a flat footed Wilson and nodded home easily, Stoke were level and Pompey had done little to stop it.
The rest of the half was proper scrappy, no team threatened and it took a red card for Wilkinson to liven it up, his first yellow was deserved but the second was quite harsh as he tussled with Dindane, Pompey had quarter of an hour to unlock a stubborn Stoke defence, but did we have the keys?
Avram went fro it by having Dindane, Webber, Kanu, Utaka and Quincy on the pitch, but we could not muster a single decent chance, O'Hara wasted a few free-kicks by firing into the wall, but that was it.
Then came that sucker punch, Fuller got fre on the right and squirmed over a cross for Diao to fire home his first goal in about 33 years, the game was gone and so was Pompey's tenure in the Premiership, maybe not mathmatically, but in reality.