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

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.”

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

eight minutes.

“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

week.

“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

character.”

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,”

he said.

“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

Portsmouth.

“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.”