Pompey show defiance in a hopeless situation
Published 28/02/2010 | 05:00
The Hood was a Portsmouth ship and what impressed those watching from the Bismarck as she broke in two and slipped beneath the grey, frozen waters of the north Atlantic was that her guns fired a final salvo.
This was a kind of sporting equivalent. Portsmouth, wrecked and ruined by what at best could be called reckless mismanagement and doomed to relegation, won their first game since collapsing into administration. It will make no difference to their fate, although this may be a damning result for Burnley, but it was a show of defiance in a hopeless situation.
Relegated sides, and whatever their future, Portsmouth are that, tend to play with a bit more freedom than those still grasping for survival. This group of players will be broken up the moment the transfer window opens, but their footballing fate at least is settled. By the interval, they had put the ball in the net twice -- although Danny Webber was ruled marginally offside -- and struck the post.
There would have been many excuses not to have travelled from the south coast to the snow-flecked hills of Lancashire, but Portsmouth's fans came in their numbers to support their club, and when Frederic Piquionne ran to them after reacting to Webber's cross quicker than the Burnley captain Clarke Carlisle, they had their reward.
After Burnley had equalised, Jamie O'Hara, perhaps the Portsmouth player who will be most in demand when the administrator comes to realise the club's assets, sent a drive crashing against Brian Jensen's post.
Portsmouth's situation was so wretched, that it may have loaded more pressure on a Burnley side that is almost wholly dependent on their home form for survival.
Burnley's frustrations were represented by an abysmal, pub-football tackle by Steven Fletcher on Hassan Yebda, which on another afternoon might have seen him dismissed. Instead, half-a-dozen minutes after Portsmouth had snatched the lead, Fletcher headed on Jensen's long punt into Martin Paterson's path, who with Hermann Hreidarsson hovering rather than attacking the ball, volleyed it with grace and beauty over David James's head and into the net.
It carried a considerably greater degree of difficulty than the free header Fletcher was to squander on the hour, although by then Portsmouth should also have scored their second when Carlisle brought down Piquionne.
However, Jensen has proved adept at saving from the spot and palmed away a penalty from O'Hara that was at least struck with power.
If this was something of an escape for Carlisle, it was not to last long. A quarter of an hour later, he did it again, although this time the victim was John Utaka. Yebda, rather than O'Hara, took the penalty and this time he sent Jensen the wrong way.