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Battling Pompey seek stay of execution

Portsmouth were at the High Court today in an attempt to secure an adjournment in hearing their appeal against a winding-up petition.

The club owe money to the English Revenue and Customs but talks broke down over a deal to pay some money back and reschedule further debt, forcing the matter to court.

The Premier League's bottom club, who sealed a last-gasp 1-1 draw against Sunderland last night, asked for an extra 28 days to form their case.

Any failure to secure an extension would mean Pompey will go into administration. News of talks breaking down with the taxman came after Aruna Dindane netted a 96th-minute equaliser when there were four dismissals, including Avram Grant being sent off for a half-time rant at referee Kevin Friend.

Grant, after several decisions going against his side recently, accused referees of treating his team unfairly and being influenced too easily.

"Referees are honest but they go with the atmosphere and they also read the papers, so it is easy to do it," Grant said.

Friend had sent off Ricardo Rocha for bringing down Darren Bent, leading to the Sunderland striker opening the scoring from the penalty spot.

In the second half, Lee Cattermole and David Meyler were dismissed for the Black Cats and they failed to hold on to their lead.

"Two of them (red cards) are stupid, you can't defend them," said Sunderland boss Steve Bruce.

"We didn't need to give him a decision to make. I can't defend the two of them and it's cost us the match.

Grant praised his players and made an impassioned plea as Pompey head for the High Court.

He said: "I want to say something even for the courts -- football is not one plus one is two, it is a passionate game. This club needs to stay alive. That is more important than football. It is 112 years old. It is a traditional English club ... I am doing everything to keep this club alive."