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npower championship fixture
Kick off 7.45pm (GMT)
Match Result Portsmouth 4 Birmingham City 1
Venue: Fratton Park Attendance 12,186
Pompey Scorers:Maguire (49), Norris (60), Etuhu (77), Futacs (90)
Man of Match: Chris Maguire
Pompey hit back in stunning style to thrash Birmingham 4-1 at Fratton Park and spark dreams of another fantastic Great Escape.
After going in at the break a goal down, Michael Appleton’s men turned on the style in the second half with goals from Chris Maguire, David Norris, Kelvin Etuhu and Marko Futacs.
Photo: Pompey Celebrate After David Norris scores to make it 2-1 against Birmingham
The Blues had fallen behind on just eight minutes when giant Birmingham forward Nikola Zigic easily escaped Ricardo Rocha and buried his shot low into the net.
The best first-half chance for an equaliser was agonisingly missed on 36 minutes. David Norris played in Luke Varney on the left channel. His low cross somehow evaded the desperate lunge of Maguire at the back post.
Marlon King was denied by Jamie Ashdown on 52 minutes and the equaliser arrived immediately after. Scott Allan touched a free-kick to Maguire on the left and he thundered a low shot home through a crowd of players, via a deflection.
David Murphy was sent off in the 59th minute and Norris shot Pompey ahead a minute later, with a cracking turn in the box and low drive into the net.
Pompey hit the third on 77 minutes as Maguire’s fantastic pass was finished off in spectacular fashion by Etuhu.
And it was 4-1 on 92 minutes. Greg Halford galloped forward on the right and crossed for substitute Futacs to sweep home in style at the near post.
The win moves Pompey to within five points of fourth-from-bottom Bristol City, with the Blues having a game in hand over the Robins.
Pompey fans will hope for more of the same on Saturday as hope grows of a dramatic Championship survival charge.
PHOTO: Appleton overjoyed and congratulates Kelvin Etuhu and Chris Maguire
Maguire: We’re Flying
by Neil Weld
Failure to find the net against Bristol City on Saturday could have deflated Pompey.
But instead the Blues took hope from a performance brimming with positivity, using that to secure a first win in 10 against Birmingham.
Defeat looked on the cards when Nikola Zigic fired the visitors ahead in a first half otherwise devoid of excitement.
But Pompey came to life after the break with Chris Maguire scoring his first goal for the club since arriving on loan from Derby.
Birmingham’s David Murphy was then sent off, before further strikes from David Norris, Kelvin Etuhu and Marko Futacs secured a much-needed victory.
And Maguire was delighted that the Blues finally managed to free themselves from the goalscoring shackles that had seen them net just once in six games.
The Scotland international said: “I’m a striker, so obviously I want to get out there and score goals. Hopefully I can now get a few more under my belt.
“It was an important goal to get us back into the game and after that we got a major lift and scored another three.
“We kept believing. We had a good feeling going into the game after our performance against Bristol City at the weekend. Everybody worked hard in training on Monday and there was a buzz about the place.
“We played some good football on Saturday, but just couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net. But now we’ve got four points out of six and that gives us a major lift.
“The manager told us at half-time to go back out there and believe in ourselves and that’s exactly what we did.
“We’re in a bad situation at the moment, but the fans stuck by us and we managed to repay them at last. Now we want to go on a run.
“Other sides around us have lost and might be panicking a bit, but we’ve got the belief in our squad now and will keep going.”
Maguire felt that Jamie Ashdown’s fine save to stop Marlon King doubling Birmingham’s lead early in the second half turned the game in the Pompey’s favour.
He said: “If that goes in it’s 2-0 and an uphill battle. But he saves it and we go up and score soon after, so it’s worked out well for us."
Appleton’s Half Time Magic
by Mark Storey
Michael Appleton’s half-time team-talk inspired a Birmingham mauling that has ignited hopes of survival from the drop.
With the Blues trailing 1-0 Appleton told his players it was their last chance to save the season.
The response was magnificent: four second-half goals that lit up Fratton Park as Pompey’s fans basked in the club’s biggest home win for 18 months.
Defeats for Doncaster and Bristol City mean the Blues' first win in 10 leaves them five points off safety with nine games left ahead of Saturday’s trip to fellow strugglers Coventry.
Nikola Zigic’s seventh-minute opener had appeared to signal a night of struggle for Appleton’s men.
But Chris Maguire’s equaliser shortly after the break burst the dam, with goals by David Norris, Kelvin Etuhu and Marko Futacs finishing off Chris Hughton’s promotion-chasers.
Blues boss Appleton revealed: “I said to the players at half-time that I was disappointed with the goal we gave away, because it was a soft one.
“But I also said I thought the game was there for the taking. I told the lads to step it up and increase the tempo. I asked them what they were waiting for, because they needed to go out and express themselves.
“I wanted to see more energy and enthusiasm because before the break we never really threatened to get in behind them.
“I told them it was the last chance saloon – and they responded. We got in people’s faces in the second half and created some good opportunities. The players worked harder for longer.
“And as soon as Chris Maguire scored the equaliser you could see it lift everyone. It gave everyone that little bit of belief. It took the pressure off the players and made everyone relax a little bit.
“Everyone has seen enough of Chris Maguire already to know what ability he’s got. I’ve got a lot of faith in the lad.
“Kelvin has been a little bit frustrated on the bench lately but he’s come on and taken his opportunity.”
The trip to Coventry is followed by two home games in four days against Hull and Burnley.
Appleton said: “There are nine games to go and who knows what’s going to happen. There will be a lot of twists and turns.
“We’ve got a big game at Coventry on Saturday and we’ll go into the game full of confidence. And if we pick up a victory it will make it very interesting."
Portsmouth have no new injury concerns ahead of the visit of Birmingham.
Striker Dave Kitson was dropped from the squad which drew 0-0 with Bristol City on Saturday and could return with Pompey having scored just once in their last seven outings.
But manager Michael Appleton otherwise has little room to freshen up his side following the recent departures of Erik Huseklepp, Liam Lawrence, Hayden Mullins and Stephen Henderson to trim the wage bill.
Kanu is still not training due to persistent back problem and fellow veteran frontman Benjani has been struggling with a calf complaint, although he was named on the bench at the weekend.
Defender Greg Halford is just one booking away from being hit with a two-match ban.
Michael Appleton is likely to stick with the same side that were held by Bristol City although Marko Futacs will be pushing for a recall and Dave Kitson may well feature on the bench.
Erik Huseklepp is ineligible to play for Birmingham against his parent club. Jordan Mutch serves the last of his three match ban but full back David Murphy is fit again.
Match Preview from Fratton Faithful
The fight isn't quite over yet...
After the spirited but ultimately disappointing draw with Bristol City on Saturday, Pompey will want to beat Birmingham tomorrow evening to keep the faintest of survival hopes alive.
There will be a minute's applause before the game tomorrow for former Pompey player Brian Bromley who sadly passed away last week and for former Birmingham player Fabrice Muamba whose condition is now improving so much now that he is able to breathe on his own and talk.
This game may be more important than some fans think as although the vast majority of us have given up hope of Championship survival, the players who remain at the club haven't and IF they can beat Birmingham tomorrow night, it might have an impact on the season.
A win tomorrow would give Appy food for thought if Trevor Birch were to approach him and ask if he would be willing to let key players move before Thursday's loan window deadline.
Of course, the manager may not have a say at all but three points tomorrow may convince him that he could keep the club in the Championship if he could keep the players he has, which would give Pompey almost an extra milion pounds in revenue next season.
Should Pompey fail to win, the writing would be well and truly on the wall and I think you would see our best players loaned out simply to guarantee to keep the club alive at the cost of probably failing to win another game all season.
The fans may well believe we're doomed already as there are still 9,000 tickets available for the game at the time of writing. It will take something special to get us out of this mess so if it happens, it could well be one of those "I was there" moments.
However, in reality Pompey are up against a far better side than they were on Saturday and will have their work cut out for them.
Keeping Nikola Zigic and Marlon King quiet will be extremely difficult whilst it's hard to see how our blunt attack is going to be able to break down one of the best defences in the division.
But there is still a glimmer of hope for now...
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Jamie ASHDOWN
RB: Greg HALFORD
CB: Jason PEARCE
CB: Ricardo ROCHA
LB: Tal BEN-HAIM
RM: Joel WARD
CM: George THORNE
CM: David NORRIS
LM: Scott ALLAN
CF: Luke VARNEY
CF: Chris MAGUIRE
GK: Boaz MYHILL
RB: Peter RAMAGE
CB: Stephen CALDWELL
CB: Curtis DAVIES
LB: David MURPHY
RM: Chris BURKE
CM: Keith FAHEY
CM: Guirane N'DAW
LM: Andros TOWNSEND
CF: Nikola ZIGIC
CF: Marlon KING
Last Time: Portsmouth 1 Birmingham City 2 (Premier League - 09/03/2010)
A double from Cameron Jerome saw Pompey lose to the Brummies despite Kanu heading in the latest of consolation goals. Not that we cared, as we had beaten the same side just three days earlier to book our place in the semi-final of the FA Cup.
I can see our full backs struggling with Birmingham's wingers and I expect they'll put more than a couple of crosses on Zigic's head. If we can replicate the second half performance against Bristol tomorrow then we've got a chance but I won't be expecting anything.
Portsmouth 0 Birmingham City 2
Match preview from TrueBlueArmy.com
Remember when we used to look forward to a glut of games? When four home games in 15 days would have been something to get excited.
Now we've reached the point where a Tuesday-night home clash with promotion-chasing Birmingham brings more dread than delight, more fear than fanaticism.
It's so long since Pompey won most will not be relishing Pompey's latest attempt to start scrambling back up the table. Nevertheless, as Michael Appleton and the players are at pains to point out, the game is not up yet - not by a long way.
Pompey welcome Chris Hughton's team to town with two targets, neither of which can be reached that night: one is to catch Doncaster and Coventry, the other sides in the bottom who will both start the night four points ahead of them; the second is to catch Bristol City, who occupy the last safe spot in the division and still lead the Blues by eight points after Saturday's goalless draw at Fratton.
Birmingham's need for points is just as acute - they head a gaggle of six clubs, from fourth to ninth, separated only by a point who are firmly in the play-off mix.
Pompey will once again just be glad to get an XI out and be able to name a few subs. Appleton is trying to look on the bright side and says he is glad to have some young, hungry players to send out.
The boss told the Pompey website: 'Players like Ashley Harris, Marko Futacs, Kelvin Ethuhu and Adam Webster are the future of Portsmouth. I said when I first came here that if I ever got an opportunity to build a squad full of young, hungry players who are desperate to be successful, then I would do. If I can do that then hopefully it will excite the Portsmouth fans.
'The players gave me a massive lift on Saturday. Your pride takes a hit when you’re losing games, but I was really proud of the players against Bristol City. I looked out there and there was a real youthfulness about us, especially going forward, and that inspired me.'
Appleton is wary of the the threat Birmingham will bring but says his squad are in remarkably good heart given the club's troubles.
'We did more than enough to beat Bristol City, but just couldn’t put the ball over the line. But if we can continue to create chances like that and keep getting in good positions then hopefully somewhere along the line someone will get punished,' he said. 'You just have to keep trusting the players and reminding them of the times they’ve scored goals. The last thing I want when they get into goalscoring opportunities is not to take responsibility.
'Birmingham have lots of options. They’re very physical, with the boy Nikola Zigic up front a handful, especially when they get the ball out wide. Chris Hughton will be looking to kick on over the next 10 games and get them promoted. But we’re on our own patch again after a very good display on Saturday, we haven’t got that many injuries and the lads have been buoyant in training.'
One piece of good news is that a possible move to Nottingham Forest for Luke Varney has fallen through - not so clever is the revelation Jason Pearce could be next to leave, something the defender and captain himself admitted after the Bristol City draw.
Birmingham put a recent poorer run of form behind them with a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough on Saturday. They won on their last visit to Fratton - a 2-1 Premier League victory in 2010 ... a few weeks after Pompey had gone into administration.
Our prediction: Pompey 2 Birmingham 2