Portsmouth Season Review 2011/2012: April
Feature by Jim Bonner
Updated Sunday, 17th June 2012
The end of one of the worst seasons in living memory.
The final month of the wretched 2011/2012 season began with a bang.
Portsmouth fans got into their coaches in the "bubble" that made the 26 mile journey west on the M27. Southampton were flying high and knew that victory for them would give them a huge step towards promotion to the Premier League whilst virtually sending their arch rivals down.
The South Coast derby was a scrap to begin with and Saints took the lead when Billy Sharp took advantage of some sloppy defending from a corner, only for the home fans to be stunned by a wonderful arrowing strike by Chris Maguire that saw Kelvin Davis beaten at his near post.
The game was even as it progressed through the second half although Jamie Ashdown kept Pompey in it with two fantastic reflex saves from Adam Lallana and Jose Fonte.
But it looked like Pompey hearts would be broken when Sharp tapped in a second goal in the 90th minute which was eventually allowed despite the goal originally being disallowed for offside.
However, a long ball in the final minute of stoppage time was nodded on to David Norris who volleyed in an equaliser to silence the Scummers send Pompey fans into madness!
Whilst it may not have mattered in the grand scheme of things, the late equaliser preserved Pompey's unbeaten run against Southampton that now stretches to over seven years.
With that result, you would have thought that Pompey would sieze the initiative and beat struggling Millwall on the following Tuesday night. Instead, Harry Kane scored the only goal in a poor defeat that left Pompey on the brink of relegation to League One.
In fact, defeat to Doncaster the following Saturday would seal the club's fate and it seemed like the writing was on the wall after only five minutes after Habib Beye and Fabien Robert gave Rovers a commanding two goal lead.
Beye was then harshly sent off for a supposed foul on Dave Kitson in the box. Greg Halford converted the penalty and then another one to bring the scores level in this topsy-turvy game.
James Coppinger gave the hosts the lead again with a deflected strike but just as the travelling fans had prepared themselves for relegation, Kitson forced the ball past the line in stoppage time and then Marko Futacs fired in a last-gasp winner to relegate Rovers and keep Pompey alive.
The fight against huge odds continued during the week thanks to a midweek win against mid-table Crystal Palace. Scott Allan's deflected goal and Halford's header was enough to win it although Darren Ambrose's penalty made the last twenty minutes a nervous affair.
Despite that win, Bristol City's recent run of form meant that unless Michael Appleton's men won their last two games and the Robins took no more than a point from their final matches, then Portsmouth would be relegated to League One.
And thus, on Saturday, April 21st, Pompey dropped to the third tier of English football for the first time since 1983 after a 2-1 defeat to Derby County, although the result wouldn't have mattered as Bristol City beat Barnsley anyway.
The game wasn't a great one as Lewis Buxton headed in the opening goal for the Rams and although ex-Derby forward Luke Varney equalised, a dive by Jamie Ward in the box saw Craig Bryson's spot kick give the visitors the win and condemn Pompey to the drop.
The fans were still in relatively good spirits despite the chaos unfolding at the club as more cuts were made, with Linvoy Primus leaving his role as ambassador.
The final match of this miserable season was to be played at Nottingham Forest's City Ground. Two second half goals from Dexter Blackstock saw Pompey beaten for the last time although the result did nothing to dampen the spirits of the defiant travelling fans who were having a party.
So, after a truly terrible campaign, Saints had won promotion to the Premier League and Portsmouth were bound for League One, if the club stays alive to fulfil its fixtures.
It was all very depressing and if I'm being completely honest, I personally believe that things will get worse before they get better.
But who knows? One day, just one day... things might actually begin to look up for us and we'll all be able to enjoy supporting this great club once again.