The biggest five minutes of the season

Last updated : 04 December 2004 By Keith Allman
There's a saying, "a week is a long time in football". That may well be true, but the last five minutes of today's 3-2 win against WBA may turn out to be some of the most important in a long, long time.

Just picture what might have been. We've had a lot of the possession, gifted two goals, and the fans are in disarray. We're 2-1 down at home, some have sung "You don't know what you're doing" at the substitution of Quashie for Berkovic, and the prospects of the club are as dark as the winter sky around Fratton. Five minutes later, West Brom are celebrating their first away win of the season and escape down the Eastern Road gleefully, leaving Pompey to conduct a post mortem. No doubt the next week would be hell; players speaking out, pressure on Milan to come up with the new manager, not to mention looking over our shoulders in the league.

But now look. De Zeeuw knocks in a header in the 85th minute to secure what looked like a point - not ideal, but it's not a defeat - and THEN LuaLua, who turned out to be an inspired substitution despite hobbling about to begin with, slams in the winner with a minute to go from a borderline offside position. The referee tried his hardest, bless him, but we're the ones coming off with the three points. Now we're in the top half of the table, fans are smiling and delighted, and the fact we came within a whisker of an embarrassing result to the team bottom of the pile is consigned to history. What's more, it's the first goal LuaLua has scored since April; a huge confidence boost for the young striker.

I know you can go through every football match pointing out the "if's" and "but's", but even so the last few minutes of today's game could be massive in our season. Now we're over half way to safety, even with our injury problems, and we've still got twenty-three games to play. With a horrendous run of games coming up including Newcastle, Liverpool and Arsenal within one week, getting three points today was a huge result. The performance leaves a lot to be desired, being as it was similar to Watford - a lot of possession but not much invention. Fuller in particular seemed to be guilty of over-playing when surely a shot was the best option, and Taylor didn't have the best game, especially gifting the second goal - it seemed to completely destroy him. We live in hope Unsworth isn't too badly injured, as he was playing very well for his time on the pitch.

A quick word for West Brom; I can't see how they're going to stay up. Admittedly they came close to winning today but that really is only because we played pretty poorly for most of the game and gifted them a couple of goals, but they're one of the worst teams I've seen at Fratton in a long while. It seems that they're able to motivate themselves for the bigger clubs (their draw at Highbury a case in point), but if they play that sort of long ball football every week then I can't see anything other than an instant return to the lower leagues. They seem to be scared easily too; when we were piling on the pressure at the end of the first and indeed second half they were falling to pieces and doing anything they could to hoof it away. Earnshaw, Kanu and Gera have got a lot of pressure on them to conjure up anything out of the amount of aerial passes that get hopefully punted their way.

Now we can sit back and enjoy the week ahead. The FA Cup draw tomorrow is always an enjoyable tradition, let's go for a decent home draw and a chance to progress. 9th in the league, 21 points, two league wins on the bounce - what's all the whinging about?