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Premier League Era: The Top 25 (5-1)
Published : 21 Jun 2010 22:03:23
The best matches, players and goals of Pompey's Premier League era. It's the time you've all been waiting so patiently for, it's time to unveil the top five Premier League matches, players and goals during Pompey's stay in the top flight.It was a rollercoaster time seven years in the Premier League and for all of the bad memories, there were plenty of good memories too. We saw some outstanding players in a Pompey shirt (though sometimes not for long) and saw some memorable results.Here are the best of them:TOP 25 MATCHES (5-1)#5: Wigan Athletic 1 Portsmouth 2 (29th April 2006)The match itself was a pretty entertaining, if extremely tense encounter but the day will be remembered for the emotional celebrations and manic pitch invasion of the JJB Stadium afterwards.Pompey knew a win for them and a draw or defeat for Birmingham would complete a great escape but The Latics should have had the lead when Henri Camara raced through the defence and slotted into an empty net, only to be wrongly judged to be offside.Camara did put Wigan ahead via a tap-in the 34th minute and they went into the break with the lead. But with 5,200 fans backing them, the men in the shockingly bad red-and-gold kit came out with purpose and Benjani Mwaruwari finally scored his first goal for the club after nodding in Gary O'Neil's shot that hit the post.Matthew Taylor then had the job of scoring the most important penalty in his career after Gary Teale handled Benjani's goalbound shot. Teale was sent off and Taylor duly fired home the spot kick and ran the length of the pitch to celebrate.Then came all the tension of trying to hold onto that lead. I remember Richard Hughes scything down Chimbonda as he ran purposefully towards our goal. The final whistle eventually went and moments later it was confirmed that Birmingham had drawn 0-0 with Newcastle.Cue some of the wildest celebrations you'll ever see on a football pitch from a set of visiting supporters. What a day that was!#4: Cardiff City 0 Portsmouth 1 (FA Cup Final - 17th May 2008)Speaking of celebrations, they don't come much bigger than winning your first major trophy for 69 years. The match itself may have been a bit dull if you were a neutral but we weren't unbiased viewers were we?Cardiff started brighter as Paul Parry forced David James into a good block but Kanu missed a great opportunity after dancing is way past the Bluebirds' defence but hitting the post with his shot when he had an open goal to aim at.The Nigerian did make amends after Peter Enckelman couldn't handle John Utaka's cross and he was there to tap in the rebound and send the blue half of Wembley into raptures.Dave Jones' side did have opportunities before the break though as Kevin McNaughton headed wide and Glenn Loovens' volley into the goal was correctly ruled out for offside.Pompey did take control of the second half as Cardiff desperately pushed forward for an equaliser and caused nervy moments in the box but there was a massive cheer when David James took a cross in the last minute of stoppage time. Seconds later Mike Dean blew the whistle and our end of Wembley erupted as Pompey had won the FA Cup!I'll never forget that day and if I ever have children and grandchildren, I will proudly tell them that I was there when Pompey won the FA Cup in the "good old days".#3: Tottenham Hotspur 0 Portsmouth 2 (FA Cup Semi-Final - 11th April 2010)There are a couple of reasons why I have ranked this just above winning the actual trophy just two years ago. Firstly, we were comfortable favourites to win in 2008 and yet laboured to a narrow 1-0 win against a mid-table Championship side. This time around, nobody had given us a prayer, a newly relegated bottom-of-the-league team composed of rejects and loans against a team that would go on to finish fourth in the league, with the aid of some of our former stars and of course, Harry Redknapp.Secondly, we had finally got some revenge over the man who walked out on us and some of the others who jumped ship when the going got tough. It was justice in our eyes, something that can be valued higher than a trophy in the cabinet won by a group of expensive mercenaries.Mokoena and Rocha defended like their lives depended on it and their spirit carried through the rest of the team who all played their part in this memorable victory. When the game went to extra time, that's when the previous disbelievers began to think that we could pull off a shock.And that shock came when Michael Dawson slipped up on the Wembley turf and gifted Frederic Piquionne a clear shot at goal which he took. Kevin-Prince Boateng booked our place in the final with a penalty after Palacios had brought down Dindane in the box, settling any nerves.The ghosts of Redknapp's defection had been exorcised as his team were denied their place in the FA Cup Final, and one of the greatest semi-final shocks in recent history had been complete.#2: Manchester United 0 Portsmouth 1 (FA Cup Quater-Final - 8th March 2008)Speaking of FA Cup shocks, this is up there with our biggest. We may have had a good team, but we were heading to the home of the best team in the World at the time, a team that would go on to win the Premier League and the Champions League.If you want to win at Old Trafford then you have to have a bit of luck and you have to defend for your lives. It looked like Pompey would get that slice of luck when Sylvain Distin barged Cristiano Ronaldo in the box and got away with it when 99 times out of 100 United would have got a penalty for that.Then came the defensive heroics as Sol Campbell raced back following a quick United counter-attack to halt Wayne Rooney's shot, the ball broke to Carlos Tevez whose shot was cleared off the line by Glen Johnson.Pompey got through the first half unscathed but with just a Niko Kranjcar long shot to show for it. However United were forced to substitute Edwin van der Sar for Tomasz Kuszczak.The second half contained more drama as Distin somehow managed to clear Michael Carrick's effort off the line and David James tipped Patrice Evra's shot onto the post. Ronaldo also missed a couple of good chances whilst Campbell's last ditch challenge prevented a certain goal.Somehow we had weathered the storm and then James' quick punt upfield allowed Kranjcar to play a square ball to Milan Baros. Kuszczak brought him down in the box and was sent off; Rio Ferdinand took his place but could not prevent Sulley Muntari for burying the penalty and sending the travelling Pompey fans berserk!Alex Ferguson's men pushed for an equaliser but after what seemed like forever the referee blew his whilstle to confirm Pompey would be going to their first FA Cup semi-final since 1992 and to Wembley for the first time since 1939.I will never forget how good I felt after that improbable victory and the angry, bitter rants of Alex Ferguson and Carlos Queiroz. Pompey were lucky but also immense at the back and somehow recorded one of the greatest results in the club's history.#1: Portsmouth 4 Southampton 1 (24th April 2005)OK, so this was predictable but this match is top of the tree for so many reasons. Let's consider the backstory, shall we?Unless you were a Pompey fan in your fifties, you would always have supported a team that played second fiddle to Southampton, an unremarkable club that constantly managed to stay in the top flight of English football, often clinging on to survival by the skin of their teeth.Victory over the Saints on this day would not only confirm that Pompey would finish above the Scummers for the first time since 1960, but also put a huge dent in their Premiership survival hopes, with their top flight status hanging by a thread.But that was only the backstory, as Harry "Judas" Redknapp would return to Fratton Park for the first time since defection no.1 along with Jim Smith, Kevin Bond and Nigel Quashie.The supporters of both sides dreaded losing, but nobody could have predicted what was to come.Of all the games to play the worst match of his career, Antti Niemi had a nightmare which began when he took out LuaLua in the box to gift Pompey a penalty that Yakubu scored after just four minutes. Arjan De Zeeuw headed in a second from Patrik Berger's free kick but Henri Camara briefly restored some hope for Southampton when his shot beat Ashdown.That hope didn't last long as Niemi gifted LuaLua two goals that have been described earlier in the countdown as a relentless Pompey would not take their foot off the gas.The Scummers couldn't have complained if the final score was 8-1 considering the amount of chances Diomansy Kamara missed in the second half. Instead, Pompey olé'd the ball around the pitch for 45 minutes and a couple of Quashie "classics" aside, Southampton couldn't get near the ball.Southampton and Harry Redknapp's humiliation was complete, Pompey were virtually safe from relegation and we all know what happened to our friends down the road. They are only just beginning to recover from the events of that day, and they are still craving revenge for possibly the worst result in their history. This was my personal favourite ever game whilst supporting Portsmouth FC and I doubt there will ever be a better one.TOP 25 PLAYERS (5-1)#5: Lassana DiarraWhen Lass first signed for us he practically admitted that he was using us as a stepping stone for greater things. People were annoyed at how an unproven player at the top level could be so blunt but after a good debut against Derby, we truly found out his justification for that speech when he dominated the midfield in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea in 2008.He was here for less than a year but he certainly caught the eye with his ability on the ball, his passing range and his snappy tackling. We knew he would move on to better things eventually because he was becoming a World Class player and in January 2009 he moved to Real Madrid for £20 million.Diarra says he'll always be thankful to Portsmouth for giving him his chance and claims to look out for our results despite our fall from grace. It's a shame we never got to see him during this World Cup.#4: Sol CampbellYes, he's a greedy git but nobody could doubt how much of an influence he had on the pitch during his time at Pompey. A once porous defence became one of the most solid in the league as Campbell marshalled a new-look back four.Despite waning towards the end of his career at Fratton Park, he was a reliable figure who was rarely beaten in the air or on the ground. His performances were so good that he even managed to earn a recall to the England side.Not bad for a player who many pundits had branded as "past it", eh?#3: Yakubu AiyegbeniYou can criticise him all you want for being lazy at times, but there can be no debate that Yakubu was the best striker we had during our time in the Premier League.When he could be bothered, his explosive pace and strength would cause even the best defences problems. He also had the useful habit of being in the right place at the right time, the sign of a top quality marksman.During his time at Pompey, only Theirry Henry scored more league goals than him. His record speaks for itself.#2: Glen JohnsonOther than a spell during the second half of the 06/07 season, Johnson was an outstanding right back for Portsmouth. His defensive qualities were often overlooked in favour of his surging runs on the attack.He has established himself as England's first choice right back, mainly thanks to his performances at Pompey. He was always 100% committed and will be given a great reception every time he comes back to Fratton Park.#1: David JamesI doubt anyone could forsee the impact David James' arrival would have on the Portsmouth team, but there can be no denying how good he has been for us.Like all goalkeepers, Jamo has made a few errors and has had a rough patch of form during his time at Pompey but this is more than made up for by the amount of saves he has made to win us points or keep us in a cup competition.James has broke the Premier League appearance record and clean sheet record during his time at the club and has also won an FA Cup winners medal and been included in the 2007/2008 PFA team of the season.For only £1 million, James is one of the best signings in the club's history and is deservedly the best player we have had in the Premier League.TOP 25 GOALS (5-1)#5: Noe Pamarot vs Newcastle United (A) (3rd November 2007)This is so high on the list not just because of how it was an unstoppable thunderbolt that crashed into the top corner from outside the box, but because it was an average-good centre back who did it.The goal surprised everyone in St. James' Park and it began a three goal salvo in the space of three minutes. The Toon were not happy...#4: Patrik Berger vs Charlton Athletic (A) (21st August 2004)This goal was so stunning that words cannot begin to describe it. So here is the video. Unfortunately, the goal would count for nothing as Shaka Hislop let the ball through his legs in the last minute of the game to gift the Addicks a 2-1 win.#3: Matthew Taylor vs Everton (H) (9th December 2006)There's audacity and then there's audacity! Only Matty Taylor would dare try something like a half-volley from such a ridiculous distance. Here it is again, enjoy!#2 Glen Johnson vs Hull (H) (22nd November 2008)So how about this, then? A right back, running at an angle towards goal, manages to chest down a high ball and then volley it with his left foot from 30 yards into the net. Here it is, in all of it's immense glory.#1: Pedro Mendes vs Manchester City (H) (11th March 2006)This was an incredible strike that turned our season around and changed the short-term future of Portsmouth FC. Without this last minute long range beauty, there would have been no FA Cup win, no trips to Europe and no England international players.Take a bow, Pedro.That wraps up my top 25 Premier League matches, players and goals. It's time to move on from that now and focus on the Championship season ahead.It's likely to be a struggle, but I think we have a good man in Steve Cotterill to stabilise us and eventually take us forward.Play Up Pompey!