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npower championship fixture
Kick off 7.45 pm (GMT)
Match Report from the Mail
Portsmouth 2 Crystal Palace 1:
Pompey keep survival flame alight after grounding Eagles
Portsmouth's slender chances of playing in the npower Championship next season remain alive after they clinched three points by beating Crystal Palace.
Scott Allan's deflected effort in the first half, his first goal for the club, and Greg Halford's header after the break gave Michael Appleton's side back-to-back triumphs.
The victory ensures Pompey can still avoid dropping into the third tier of English football for the first time since 1983 as fellow strugglers Bristol City only drew with West Ham.
Staying up? Portsmouth earned a valuable victory
The Eagles began the evening brighter but, after Luke Varney had hit a post, Allan's effort struck Nathaniel Clyne and left Julian Speroni stranded to give the hosts a 32nd-minute lead.
Then, 10 minutes after the interval, Allan whipped in the corner which Halford nodded in from the edge of the six-yard box.
Substitute Darren Ambrose slammed home a 70th-minute penalty after the lively Wilfried Zaha had been felled but the hosts held on to fight another day.
Portsmouth: Ashdown, Ward, Rocha, Pearce, Rekik, Allan (Harris 85), Halford, Norris, Maguire, Kitson, Varney.
Subs Not Used: Mokoena, Futacs, Scapuzzi, Magri.
Goals: Allan 32, Halford 55.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Clyne, McCarthy, McShane, Moxey, Garvan, Pedroza (Scannell 77), O'Keefe, Zaha, Martin (Appiah 57), Parr (Ambrose 64).
Subs Not Used: Price, De Silva.
Goals: Ambrose 71 pen.
Ref: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).
Pompey, whose chances of survival were rated at "500-1" by Appleton following Saturday's last-gasp win over Doncaster, remain five points adrift of safety with two games remaining.
The south coast club kicked off knowing nothing but a victory would suffice but they played like a side consigned to relegation in the opening exchanges.
The Football League's Young Player of the Year Zaha drew a smart stop from home goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown before going close again with an effort which went over the bar.
Dave Kitson, starting a Portsmouth game for the first time since February, headed over before Palace's Antonio Pedroza lifted an effort beyond Ashdown but also over the crossbar.
But Pompey hit back and after Varney clipped a post, Allan struck an unlikely opener.
Spot on: Darren Ambrose stoked home from the spot
His speculative effort took a huge deflection off Clyne which completely wrong-footed Palace stopper Speroni.
Chris Maguire nearly doubled their advantage before the break, darting past Dean Moxey before hitting a fierce effort just wide.
Palace almost hit back early in the second period but Pedroza's close-range flick was pushed away by Ashdown.
But it was the hosts who doubled their advantage when Allan's corner came to Halford at the back post, and he headed in from close range to follow up his brace against Doncaster with another goal.
Palace threw on Ambrose and he was called upon to take a spot-kick after Zaha drove into the area before Varney hauled him down.
Gotcha: Ricardo Rocha tackles Chris Martin
The midfielder promptly lashed his penalty straight down the middle to increase the anxiety at Fratton Park.
Ambrose came close to an equaliser with two trademark tries from long range which both whistled narrowly wide.
With time running out, Palace did have the ball in the net but Patrick McCarthy was adjudged to have fouled Ashdown before he applied the finish.
Maguire could have calmed the home supporters' nerves after rounding Speroni but his shot was scrambled off the line.
Summary From the News
Published on Tuesday 17 April 2012 22:16 Pompey’s survival hopes remain alive tonight after a gutsy 2-1 win over Crystal Palace.
Scott Allan and Greg Halford both grabbed deflected strikes to keep the faint chances of staying in the Championship going for the Blues.
Darren Ambrose’s 71st minute penalty made for a nervy finale at Fratton Park.
But Michael Appleton’s men held on to live to fight another day in the English game’s second tier.
It was breathless stuff for long periods in a remarkably open affair.
Both sides had plenty of chances with Chris Maguire, Luke Varney and Palace’s Antonio Pedroza going close before Allan’s 30 yarder was deflected past Julian Speroni in the 32nd minute.
There was a slice of luck about Pompey’s second 10 minutes after the restart, with Halford’s header having a heavy deflection off Speroni.
Pompey made it hard for themselves when Varney messed up a clearance and then pulled down Wilfried Zaha in the box for Ambrose to convert.
But Pompey held on for the win to hit 40 points - five points from safety with two games left.
It’s still a massive long shot for Appleton’s men to stay up, but they are still alive - with Bristol City now needing two points from their remaining two games to condemn the Blues to League One.
Report from ITV News
Portsmouth boss Michael Appleton believes the npower Championship relegation scrap is "Bristol City's to lose" as his side collected a vital 2-1 triumph over Crystal Palace at Fratton Park.
With Bristol City being held 1-1 by West Ham, Pompey are now five points behind the Robins with two games remaining for both sides.
Scott Allan fired Pompey ahead after 32 minutes when his effort from 25 yards out took a wicked deflection off Nathaniel Clyne and wrong-footed Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.
Greg Halford doubled the home side's advantage after 55 minutes, when his far-post header from Allan's corner went into the net off Palace's Dean Moxey.
The visitors won a penalty after 71 minutes, when Pompey midfielder Luke Varney gave the ball to Wilfred Zaha on the left of the box, and clumsily felled him as he tried to retrieve it. Substitute Darren Ambrose stepped up and blasted the spot-kick straight down the middle.
Portsmouth collected a vital 2-1 triumph over Crystal Palace Credit: PAThe strike proved academic, though, as Pompey's Championship dream is still alive.
They must win at home to Derby on Saturday and hope City fail to beat Barnsley at Ashton Gate.
But Appleton says his side go into the penultimate weekend of the season with no pressure on their shoulders.
"All the pressure is on Bristol City as far as we're concerned," Appleton said.
"There's no pressure on us. It's for them to throw away rather than us to achieve it.
"We knew if we'd won the game and they'd beaten West Ham, we would have been down anyway. We can't control their results. We can just control our results.
"We'll try and win again on Saturday and we'll give it everything we have got because we've got pride and we've got dignity. If the worst-case scenario does happen, hopefully we can do it with a little bit about us."
Appleton has challenged his Pompey charges to take their relegation scrap to the final day.
"I would love it to go to the last game of the season because I think that would be a massive achievement for everyone associated with the football club - the players and staff," he said.
"When it gets to that situation, if it gets to that situation, anything can happen. We've seen dramas up and down the country in the last 10 or 20 years. You just never know."
Crystal Palace boss Dougie Freedman felt his team wasted opportunities to claim a share of the spoils on the south coast.
"We didn't take our chances. I thought our performance was fantastic pretty much from start to finish. I cannot criticise the players' work rate," he said.
"It was a night where we played some fantastic football; our attacking display was great. We just couldn't quite get the goals I thought we deserved. It was a difficult result to take after looking at our performance."
Pompey 2 Palace 1: A VIEW FROM THE STANDS Posted by Pompey Pages ⋅
April 18, 2012 ⋅ By Tom Overton
Pompey’s slim hopes of completing the greatest of great escapes are still alive after the Blues secured back-to-back wins last night with victory over Crystal Palace at a rain-soaked Fratton Park.
Scott Allan’s deflected effort in the first half, and Greg Halford’s header after the break were on target for Pompey. Darren Ambrose’s penalty made it a nervous final twenty minutes, but Pompey held on for a crucial victory.
The only disappointment on the night was the result from Ashton Gate, where West Ham drew with Bristol City, gowever, Coventry were beaten by Millwall. Those results mean Pompey leapfrog Coventry in the table, but are still five points adrift of safety, with just two games remaining.
Michael Appleton adopted to start with an attacking 4-3-3 formation, with Luke Varney and Chris Maguire on the flanks, with Dave Kitson starting up front – coming in ahead of Kelvin Etuhu.
The visitors, who are safely in mid-table, started the game the brighter with Wilfried Zaha causing the Pompey defence problems with his pace and trickery. Moments later, the visitors should’ve taken the lead when Antonio Pedroza spooned his close range effort over the bar when unmarked in the box.
Pompey soon started to take control of the game, with Allan and Maguire in particular causing the Eagles problems. Maguire was full of energy and pace down the right, and he almost gave Pompey the lead but saw his effort fly past the far post from an acute angle.
Pompey did take the lead, however, courtesy of a big deflection. Scott Allan’s speculative effort looked like it was going well wide, but it cannoned off Nathaniel Clyne to nestle in the back of the net and send the Blues in to the lead – West Ham also equalising having gone 1-0 down to Bristol City, Coventry and Millwall was still goalless.
Maguire and Kitson, who was making his first start since February, had half-chances as Pompey finished the half the stronger.
HALF-TIME: Portsmouth 1 Crystal Palace 0
Crystal Palace started the second half the way they did in the first, enjoying plenty of possession on a now very wet Fratton Park pitch, and it wasn’t long before they should’ve levelled the match when Pedroza hit the woodwork and the follow up from Zaha hit the side netting.
However, soon after, Pompey doubled their advantage after some good play by Varney which resulted in Pompey winning a corner. Scott Allan took it, and Greg Halford nodded in from close range at the back post to score his third goal in two games.
With a two goal cushion, Pompey were looking comfortable, that’s until Varney’s stupidity gave Palace the chance to get back into the game. After failing to deal with an easy clearance, he gave the ball away to Zaha before bringing him down in the box. Varney’s decision making definitely needs some polishing and seems to be very hit and miss at the moment. He must be praised for his great attacking prowess and great efforts, but then on other occasions who doesn’t look interested or makes the kind of bad decisions that leads to Pompey conceding a penalty.
Substitute Darren Ambrose calmly slotted the ball under Ashdown, which ensured a nail biting final twenty minutes.
At this stage, it was ‘all hands to the pump’ for Pompey as they were defending in numbers. I have to give credit to Kitson, who was putting in a lot of effort in getting back to help out, making a number of important blocks and tackles. The confidence he picked up from a top performance against Doncaster on Saturday obviously helped.
Palace had the belief that they could snatch a late equaliser, and they did find the net, but thankfully the goal was ruled out. Partick McCarthy netted from a loose ball in the box, but referee Simon Hooper rightly blew for a foul on the Pompey stopper.
There were groans from the Fratton faithful when the four official indicated a whopping five-minutes of stoppage time, but Pompey held on for the victory to keep their survival dreams alive.
FULL-TIME: Portsmouth 2 Crystal Palace 1
POMPEY PAGES Man of the Match:
This is a difficult decision to make as lots of players were very good on the night. Scott Allan was quite rightly named the official MOTM, for his vision and creativity at the heart of the midfield. But I’m going to give it to Chris Maguire, he was outstanding. Playing out of position on the right-side of midfield, his pace and work rate was phenomenal. He is going to be a huge miss on Saturday, as he will be unavailable to play against his parent club Derby.
Match Preview from the News
Pompey sweating on injured defensive duo
Pompey are sweating on the fitness of Jason Pearce and Joel Ward for tonight’s visit of Crystal Palace.
PHOTO: Jason Pearce Picture: Barry Zee
The Blues must win the Fratton Park fixture to maintain their slight chance of remaining in the Championship.
However, they have concerns over Ward and Pearce, who both picked up knocks in the win at Doncaster.
Tal Ben Haim (thigh) and Benjani (ankle) are definitely missing tonight.
Kelvin Etuhu is also a doubt following a family bereavement.
And Appleton is hoping his defensive duo come through to boosts his side’s hopes of staying up.
He said: ‘Joel and Jason have got knocks so didn’t train yesterday and are 50/50.
‘They are not major doubts, but we could have done with the game being next weekend, so to speak.
‘I think they are two honest lads who are prepared to do whatever they can to make sure they are fit and available and I will be very surprised if they are not there tonight.
‘They got through the Doncaster game and were iced up heavily afterwards but I think they will be available.’
Etuhu also didn’t train yesterday following his family bereavement.
And Appleton was keeping an open mind whether the winger will be able to feature.
He added: ‘It’s 50/50 with Kelvin.
‘It depends what sort of frame of mind he is in.
‘We will wait to hear from him.’