Emotional Grant savours Pompey win
Portsmouth boss Avram Grant admitted to being overwhelmed by
emotion after the FA Cup victory over rivals Southampton at St
Mary’s on Saturday.
Pompey defeated their neighbours 4-1, pulling away with goals
from Aruna Dindane, Nadir Belhadj and Jamie O’Hara after Rickie
Lambert had cancelled out Quincy Owusu-Abeyie’s opener.
Grant, normally known for keeping his feelings to himself,
confronted referee Kevin Friend at half-time during Pompey’s
previous game and after victory against Alan Pardew’s men headed
onto the pitch again, this time to thank the away fans.
“I’m very emotional and this is an emotional game,” Grant
said. “If you win, you make 250,000 other people happy, this is
what football is about.
Victory in the fifth-round tie means Pompey have bragging
rights on the south coast and go into the quarter-final hat – but
the bigger picture is that they have to return to the High Court to
fight a winding-up order from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
“I will fight until the last moment,” Grant said. “As long as
we have a chance on the pitch. What happens in court is out of my
hands. If they need to punish someone then it is a person that does
something wrong. I don’t know who that is but it is not us.”
The eventual scoreline flattered the visitors, who had David
James to thank for keeping the scores level at half-time.
He pulled off fine saves to deny Papa Waigo N’Diaye and Wayne
Thomas in the first half, then Adam Lallana just after the restart.
James is hoping the club will be saved, telling ITV: “My
instinct says it will be. I think it’s too important for too many
people, for football even, that a top-flight club can go out of
“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
Midfielder O’Hara dedicated victory to the supporters who
enjoyed the short trip along the south coast.
The on-loan Tottenham man said: “We had to give something
back to the fans 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.”
He added: “Hopefully we won’t get Tottenham in the final
because I wouldn’t be able to play.”
O’Hara was given the man-of-the-match award but the turning
point of the tie came when Owusu-Abeyie, on loan from Spartak
Moscow, was introduced just before the hour mark and scored within
“The only thing we could do is bring loan players in who were
not under contract,” Grant said. “Quincy was one of them. “I knew
him from Arsenal and know that he has a lot of quality. I like to
develop players and get the best from them and he will be very good
if we get potential from him.”
Grant was delighted with the result after such a traumatic
“If I wrote a book about Portsmouth it would be a
best-seller,” he said.
“I see the passion of everyone at the club – the fans, the
players and the staff. There is a passion to succeed. I was very
happy to see the decision from the High Court. There are many
people around and it’s not their fault.
“I had two choices. To give up or to show to the players that
we will make our spirit even higher. I said that to the players and
to my children when there are difficult times you need to show your
Saints boss Pardew was pleased with his side’s performance
until Pompey pulled away with their late goals.
“We tried to play a controlled game and not to open it up,”
“We did well with that. We were very disappointed not to be
leading at half-time, David James was terrific, and it was evenly
poised. Psychologically, scoring first would have been tough for
“I think next time we’ll play them we’ll be in a stronger
position. We are a lot closer than the team that played because we
had players unavailable.”