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Fairytale Cancelled

Most pundits and football fans outside of Portsmouth gave Pompey little
chance of getting a result in the FA Cup final, indeed most were predicting a heavy defeat on the back of Chelsea’s demolition of Wigan last week. If they could limit the damage to a respectable loss, then that would be acceptable. If they could nick it, it would go down in FA cup folklore. History, form, quality….everything really was pointing to a Chelsea victory.

Doing the double was Chelsea’s incentive. A first for the club. But you got
the feeling that Chelsea’s array of talent had one eye on the glitz and
glamour of the world cup instead.

Lampard, Drogba and co. were in a no-nonsense mood early and looked to get the game wrapped up as soon as possible. An early effort from Lampard grazed the upright which had James all at sea and Drogba was in a menacing mood, looking to satisfy his appetite for goals. Chelsea’s pressure saw the ball hit the woodwork five times in the first half, the biggest miss was Solomon Kalou’s effort against the crossbar from inside the six yard box with an empty goal beckoning.

Pompey fans were starting to believe lady luck was with them and it could be their day. Pompey were defending stoutly. James and Mokeona were standouts for their team. James pulled off
a fine save to deny Anelka & Mokeona twice blocked Drogba. Pompey had a rare break on 22 minutes when Prince-Boateng volleyed sweetly cross the box. His shot was heading wide and Piquionne did all he could to
try and direct it on target. Cech pulled off an instinctive save to keep the scores level.

A Drogba free-kick was tipped onto the under side of the bar and bounced on the line, Mokeona quickest to respond and scramble the ball away. Mokeona was again on hand towards the end of the half to clear a goal mouth scramble. Michael Ballack limped off just before half-time after a crude tackle from Boateng, to be replaced by Belletti.

Chelsea were slow to get going in the second half and Pompey had the best attempt early when O’Hara picked out Boateng, who brought the ball down exquisitely but his shot was narrowly over. Pompey were making some brave attempts to make a fist of it and had a good spell which culminated in a pemalty decision in their favour. Chelsea were still trying to find their rhthym when Dindane was brought down inside the Chelsea box by Belletti.

It was a defining moment in an enthralling game. If Pompey were to steal the FA Cup from under Chelsea’s noses, this was their opportunity. As soon as the ref pointed to the spot, it seemed it may be Pompeys day after all. But the moment vanished in a puff of smoke and Pompey’s chance was gone. Prince-Boateng, the hero from the semi-final against Tottenham stepped up to take the spot-kick, but his effort on this occasion was nothing like the thunderbolt from that game. His shot dribbled and bobbled at Cech, who looked a little surprised at the lack of venom in Boateng’s shot.

As usually happens when one side fail to take their opportunities, Chelsea
immediately made them pay. Drogba stroked home his free-kick neatly inside James’ post within minutes
of the penalty miss. Avram Grant rang the changes, bringing on Kanu and Belhadj for Mullins and
Diop. Belhadj injected some much needed width on the left and put some searching balls into the box, but it was just not Pompeys day.
In the 87th minute Lampard was brought down in the box by Michael Brown, but Lampard uncharacteristally scuffed his shot wide. The game finished bitterly as Michael Brown vented his frustration at Chelsea’s time-wasting with a crude challenge on Sturridge.

Pompeys wretched season had peaked with an unexpected run in the Cup, butcould not mask the disappointment of administration & relegation. Many fans are comfortable with the prospect of playing championship football next season, but the uncertainly surrounding the ownership and direction is what
is of most concern. Four owners of a football club in one season is not a foundation for stability. Portsmouth fans will hope their saviour is out there and will appear soon so they can look to the future with some

Chelsea, with the double trophies tucked under their arm, will no doubt lock horns with Man United again next year. Amidst the eurphoria is talk of Ancelotti signing a long term contract, but long term plans in the premier league have a habit of not panning out….

Gary Bowen

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Article title: Fairytale Cancelled

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