Pompey Bow Out On A High

02 May 2010 04:30
Portsmouth 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Pompey's final Premier League game at Fratton Park ended with a 3-1 win over Wolves after an open, entertaining match played under a cracking atmosphere from both sets of fans.Despite all of our troubles this season, the Pompey fans were in good spirits. There were a few people in front of me in the Fratton End who had donned Lone Ranger costumes and had brought balloons and treats for the relegation party.The players were determined to end the season at Fratton Park on a high and played some good football against a Wolves side who also played with the freedom of a team playing without any pressure.Pompey took the lead when Michael Brown's free kick was met by the head of Aruna Dindane who was virtually unmarked to score his third goal in two games. The Ivorian has found some form ahead of the cup final but was withdrawn at half-time, presumably to protect him from a serious injury.Pompey could have gone further ahead when Boateng's volley was well saved by Hahnemann whilst Piquionne went it alone and forced the Wolves stopper into another good save. The vistors had been gifted chances during the game though and levelled thanks to some poor defending which allowed Ronald Zubar to head straight at David "Tina Turner" James who also saved Kevin Doyle's follow up but could stop the follow up of that follow up as nobody in a blue shirt was alert to either rebound.It didn't take long for Pompey to re-take the lead as John Utaka, who is certainly playing his best football in a long time, cut insude the Wolves defender and rifled past Hahnemann six minutes before the break.During the interval, Jamie O'Hara picked up every "player of the season" award there was to win and who can argue with that? He has been far-and-away our most consistent performer this season and we really need him fit for Wembley.The second half was equally as open as the first and Pompey put the game to bed when Tommy Smith nodded on a cross which found Michael Brown in space, who scored his second goal in consecutive home games.Mick McCarthy would have been angry with the defending for that goal but would have been more annoyed that his side missed so many chances. Pompey fans will also be worried that if our defence gifted Chelsea those chances, they'll put the ball in the back of the net.As it was, Ebanks-Blake missed the sitters he was presented and in fairness, our defence in the second half did contain the inexperienced Joel Ward and Lenny Sowah, whilst Steve Finnan had to fill in at centre back for the injured Rocha.I do have some sympathy for Richard Hughes after he came off looking distraught following what looked like a hamstring injury. It's likely that Pompey's current longest serving player is going to miss out on the biggest game of his career, which is a massive shame.The players came out after the final whistle for their lap of appreciation, then David James acknowledged the fans' support before Avram Grant came out with a very inspiriational speech that was sounded like something from Braveheart.He said: "I just want to say one thing. If I could shake the hands of every one of you, I would. If anyone in the world wants to learn about passion, commitment and loyalty, Fratton Park is the place!""They can take points off us, they can put embargo. They can throw us out of Europe but they cannot destroy our spirit. NEVER! In two weeks from now, each one of us, players, fans and staff will come very proud to Wembley with the sings we did it, we did it."With that said, Grant and his troops went down the Fratton Park tunnel for what may be the last time. Avram refused to be drawn on his future in the post-match interviews but has now made himself a Fratton favourite whatever he does in the summer.And if he could deliver us an FA Cup against all the odds come May 15th, then he may well go down as a Portsmouth legend.Pompey Player RatingsDavid James: 9 - Made many crucial saves which kept us in it.Anthony Vanden Borre: 7 - Continues to impress going forward.Steve Finnan: 6 - You could tell he isn't a centre back based but he adjusted OK.Aaron Mokoena: 6 - Did alright up until the interval.Lennard Sowah: 5 - Inexperience showed.Michael Brown: 8 - Seemed to be everywhere on the pitch and scored a good goal.Richard Hughes: 6 - Did his job as usual, but is likely to miss the final now.Kevin-Prince Boateng: 6 - In-and-out of the game.Aruna Dindane: 7 - Always looked dangerous.John Utaka: 7 - If only he played like this all season.Frederic Piquionne: 7 - Caused the Wolves defence plenty of problems.SubstitutesJamie AshdownHayden MullinsJoel Ward (Mokoena 46): 6 - Showed signs of promise.Papa Bouba Diop (Hughes 59): 5 - "Quashie'ed" a couple into the Fratton End.Matt RitchieTommy Smith (Dindane 46): 6 - Worked hard and assisted Brown for the third.Kanu