Thursday 22 March 2018

James thankful for 'happy days'


Alan richie

Goalkeeper David James savoured an FA Cup derby victory for Portsmouth and predicted the troubled club would avoid closure.

The England international saw four goals go past his opposite number Kelvin Davis during the closing 25 minutes at St Mary's as Portsmouth beat rivals Southampton to reach the quarter-finals.

Substitute Quincy Owusu-Abeyie put Portsmouth ahead, and although Rickie Lambert grabbed an equaliser shortly afterwards, further goals from Aruna Dindane, Nadir Belhadj and Jamie O'Hara allowed Portsmouth to celebrate.

"It was a wonderful day for the FA Cup and Hampshire," said James. "The performance on the field by both teams made it a good game, so 'happy days'."

With the club having been granted extra time to fight a winding-up petition, James said he expected Portsmouth to be saved. "My instinct says it will be," he said. "I think it's too important for too many people, for football even, that a top-flight club can go out of existence. It's not going to be easy and whoever it is who helps us out we'll thank them now, but it's important we stay in business and important Portsmouth keep flying the flag in the Premier League for Hampshire."

Portsmouth midfielder O'Hara dedicated victory to the supporters who enjoyed the short trip along the south coast.

"We had to give something back to the fans today because it's been a bit of a dire season for us. The fans have been fantastic all season and it's good to give something back," said the on-loan Tottenham man.

Looking ahead a couple of rounds, O'Hara said: "Hopefully we won't get Tottenham in the final because I wouldn't be able to play."

Portsmouth boss Avram Grant cut a relieved figure after the match, which saw the third-tier Saints more than hold their own for large periods.

"We believed that we could win the game, (maybe) not 4-1, because Southampton played very well tactically in the first half," said Grant. "Second half we were much better. It's good for the club and good for the fans.

"Since the draw everybody spoke only about this game, like there is no league, so it is very important for everybody."

Sunday Independent

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