Date:Monday April 12 2010
Pompey really upset the applecart once more, up we rolled to Wembley, all the pundits predicted a comfortable thrashing for our beleagured troops, and what happens? We only bloody win it!!
I don't now how most of the fans' days went, but I hopped on the 9:32 from Portsmouth Harbour to Waterloo, the train was packed, in fact so packed I stood the whole journey, an hour and three quarters in total, on arrival me and my group (my eldest, my dad and mate) decided to hop on the tube to Baker street and the Metropole pub for a quick brekkie.
Luckily the Metropole which is a huge Wetherspoons, was also rammed full of mainly Pompey and a few Spurs fans, after a quick pint we managed to grab a table and squeeze in a large breakfast, another pint and a few Spurs fans piped up with 'come on you Spurs' like a red rag to a bull the place erupted with 'Play up Pompey' and 'Avrams' blue and white army', the first battle of the day was won as the lilywhites backed down.
On to a sports bar in Marylebone we went, a few familiar faces greeted us the pub had definitely been claimed as Pompey for the day, opposite was a swanky hotel, unbeknown to us it was the overnight stay for our opponents for the day! Out trotted the familiar faces and the chants went up from the other side of the road, battle two was clinched.
On to Wembley and I had a seat on a train for the first time that day, we had to first trawl through the hoardes of Spurs fans as we had come off at Wembley central, this took us through the Spurs end and finally through to the welcoming sea of blue.
The escalators took us up to the 5th level and we located our seats, I was worried that we would be up in the God's so to speak, but I don't think Wembley has a bad seat in it.
The atmosphere was at fever pitch now, I can honestly say it beat both the FA cup trips of 2008 for passion, on both those trips I always felt we would win, this time it was anticipation, excitement and good old hope.
The teams took to the field and my first thought was about Belhadj, our Algerian flyer hadn't made it, this worried me as I thought he would of been a great outlet on the break.
Spurs were predictably on top straight away, Pompey were sat deep and content to counter-attack, not a bad policy with the personnel we had available as it goes.
Spurs were enjoying the possesion, but Pompey were containing well, Defoe was truggling for space in the box and Crouch only getting his head to balls that were never going to threaten the goal, James was looking as commanding as a man in shocking pink can do.
Gareth Bale was the man Spurs were looking to for inspiration, he had the legs on Finnan, but if he beat our full back, there were Rocha and Mokoena to snuff out any threat.
Piquionne had the chance of the half, after Pompey had soaked up Spurs' attacking punches, Yebda released the hero from the last round, he homed in on goal but took to long, Gomes was on him before he knew it and saved his poked shot with his feet, Dindane picked up the loose ball but wasted it.
Jamo earned his money next, Huddlestone going for a lob/chip shot, but James stretched tall and clawed the ball out from under the crossbar.
Half-time arrived and the Pompey fans started to believe we could pull this off, Spurs were up on the stats, but Pompey had had the best openings, Rocha, Mullins and Mokoena, all players that had been vilified this season were standing firm, and standing impressively, Wilson was starting to grow into the midfield and Dindane who I honestly thought was shocking first half was about to improve drastically.
A quick pint for £4 and a £1 packet of crisps later and we were off again, and straight away came a match defining moment, the ball sat up nicely for Defoe and the England striker struck his volley, in flew Rocha to make a fantastic block and ball went over, to both Defoe's and the Spurs' fans disbelief.
The crowd noise was cranking up nicely as well, the Pompey 'wall of sound' would've done Phil Spector proud, the Spurs fans were strangely subdued however as they seemed to wait for something to shout about.
The one thing you are guaranteed with Pompey is unerring support whatever the situation, I sem to remember the Spurs fans singing 'where is your famous atmosphere' at Fratton before Christmas, hopefully they took a few notes as a club that was already relegated, beat the drum.
Pavyluchenko replaced Defoe after only an hour, this was greeted with delight from the blue side of Wembley, another job was done.
Crouch should of scored just after, James missed a corner and the ball landed squarely on Mr.Clancy's forehead, he though could only head in the direction of Mr.Westwood who was to the left of James' post, big let off.
The ninety minutes was flying past, both teams were struggling with their footing on a khazi pitch but chances were limited as both defences had come out on top so far.
The half hour extra-time was called for and Pompey had already come further than we were supposed to, and after 99 minutes we had the outright cheek to take the lead, Wilson crossed in from a dead ball and Dawson slipped on the ice-rink surface, Piquionne wanted no further invite and stabbed home under Gomes, I have enjoyed some goals in my time supporting Pompey, this one was right up there with Kaboul against AC Milan though, I was joined in a simultaneous primal scream with all the other Pompey fans, Pompey were not only in another semi-fianl but leading it!
Next came all the luck we had missing throughout the rest of a dismal season, first Crouch turned an effort onto the outside of James' post and then he headed home form another Bale cross, James had come for it and missed it, Mr.Wiley however ruled that Kranjcar had impeded James in his efforts and the goal was ruled out, harsh maybe, but did I care?
The second half got under way and Pompey had the chance to seal it, Utaka found Dindane on another lightning quick breakaway, but instead of shooting he tried to square it back to the Nigerian and the golden chance went begging.
Corluka almost got Spurs back in it, but as he waited for the ball to drop, James came flying out and blocked his effort to save again.
For anyone at Wembley it had only around 50,000 people left now, the Spurs fans were flooding out in droves, Pompey were still there however and next came a moment that clinched it, Dindane broke away once more and as he shaped to shoot Palacios tackled, down he went and Wiley pointed to the spot, replays have shown since that Palacios got a toe to the ball, but sod it, who cares now?
Boateng smashed home and Pompey were on the way to the most unlikely final of our history, we may have been massive underdogs in '39 against a dominate Wolves side, but this year we were written of as no-hopers, Chelsea await in a final we will again be given long odds for, but Pompey frustrate and amaze in equal measures, this season we have been frustrated aplenty, one more game could equate the status-quo in our eyes.
For the record I got to stand on the tube all the way back to Waterloo, then it was again vertical all the way to petersfield where at last enough people got off the train for a few seats to free up for me, my 12 year old and my Dad and his plastic hip that must of been worn away by the day's events.
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Date:Monday April 12 2010
|Portsmouth||3||-||0||Dag & Red|
|1. Leyton Orient||5||5||0||0||10||15|
|7. Bristol Rovers||5||3||0||2||1||9|
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