Pompey late show frustrates rivals Southampton
Portsmouth midfielder Joel Ward snatched a share of the spoils in the south-coast derby as his late goal rescued a 1-1 draw against Championship leaders Southampton at Fratton Park on Sunday.
Nigel Adkins' side were on course for their first league win at their bitter rivals since 1976 after Rickie Lambert headed Saints in front in the second half.
But Ward rose highest to head home the equaliser with six minutes left to ensure Portsmouth's unbeaten run under new boss Michael Appleton stretched to four matches.
Although Southampton made the short journey home rueing their failure to take all three points, a draw was still enough to regain sole possession of first place in the table after second placed West Ham had drawn level on points with the leaders on Saturday.
With the impending threat of a possible points deduction hanging over Portsmouth's head as former chairman Vladimir Antonov is investigated by financial officials in Lithuania, Ward's equaliser was the ideal confidence boost for everyone at Fratton Park.
The last league meeting between these fierce rivals came in the Premier League in April 2005, but while this latest encounter took place a division lower there was no lack of intensity on or off the pitch.
A 19,000 capacity crowd crammed into Fratton Park to see if Saints could end a run of two games without a win that raised the first serious doubts about their ability to secure back to back promotions.
The visitors' response was to take the game to Portsmouth from the start of a typically frenetic derby clash.
Lambert nodded Dean Hammond's cross over after 14 minutes and the striker threatened again midway through the first period,
With half-time approaching, full-back Greg Halford fired over the bar for the hosts.
But it was Southampton who upped their tempo in the opening minutes of the second period.
Lambert saw his effort from the edge of the penalty area saved by Stephen Henderson, while the Portsmouth keeper also had to be alert to prevent Morgan Schneiderlin's attempt sneaking in.
Southampton finally turned their possession into a goal in the 63rd minute when Daniel Fox's cross reached Lambert, who got in front of his marker at the far post to head home from close-range.
Guly Do Prado should have killed off Portsmouth soon after but he miscued a volley wide from a good position and then saw Henderson dashed from his line to block the Saints winger from shooting.
Do Prado was the guilty party again when Portsmouth equalised in the 84th minute.
David Norris looped in a corner from the right, George Thorne headed the ball back across goal and Do Prado was guilty a half-hearted challenge as Ward scored with a close-range header.
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