Pompey go home
Well Pompey have done it again, just when we looked like falling as low as possible, the team rallies and lifts us again, all the way to Wembley once more, a 4th appearance in 2 years with the prospect of a 5th to follow.
How ironic that the cup competition we were accused of 'cheating' in winning it, the same win that caused our spectacular downfall, just maybe has been our salvation, this time it is more of a cobbled together outfit that will step out at Wembley, no multi-million superstars this time, just honest grafters with uncrushable spirit.
I ended up watching the match in a pub called 'the Roundhouse' in Covent Garden, it was because of a prior commitment to the missus, booked in as long ago as November, still we made it to the pub after trying about 5 others with no tellies, the landlord of this one however turned his on for us, and we sat amongst the diners with music form the 90's playing over the proper entertainment.
The first half was bloody awful, both teams were content to try and force their way through than try and play their way in, Bowyer and Brown in particular enjoying a scrap.
Utaka had an early sighter at goal but never really threatened Hart, while Jerome had Birmingham's best effort, his shot low to James' right was tipped round the post.
Utaka had the last chance of the half, he was played in down the right and as he jinked towards goal he let fire from distance and found only the Milton end.
The second half kicked off and it could only get better, Hart stretching to deny Piquionne early on, gathering at the second attempt as our striker lurked with intent.
Belhadj was firing in crosses from the left, and Pompey looked much more of a threat now, the fluency was there at last and a flurry of corners was evidence of our growing confidence.
Utaka almost broke the deadlock on the hour, O'Hara found Piquionne's head, and he nodded toward Utaka, but Barry Ferguson got in a saving header to deny us the lead.
Piquionne fired in a goal bound effort after some good feet, but Johnson got in the way this time and blocked with his back, but the goal was coming and come it did.
It was the messiest goal since Kanu scored in the final 2 years back, Utaka stabbed in a shot admist a scramble, Hart blocked and as Webber tried to force it home, Dann got involved and it squirted up into the air off of Hart and Piquionne was on hand to tap home from a yard, Fratton erupted and so did two blokes in the heart of London amongst old ladies enjoying their lunch.
The crowd had hardly settled when piquionne repeated the dose, this time O'Hara slotted in the Frenchman, he was all snake-hips and sent Johnson chasing his tail, his finish was low and Hart was helpless, Pompey had one foot back at Wembley.
Birmingham made a flurry of substitutes, but it was Pompey who came closest again, Brown firing in a volley, it was deflected and looped up over Hart, and up over the bar.
With 10 minutes to go Birmingham thought they were back in it, James saved Dann's header and Ridgewell followed up, James again clawed his effort away, but the ball had crossed the line, trouble is the linesman and Referee didn't think so, nice one the men in orange/purple.
Pompey should of had 3, Piquionne playing in Diop, but instead of shooting for his first Pompey goal, he tried to square for O'Hara and the chance had gone, still so did the final whistle and Pompey marched on once more.