Portsmouth defeated Sheffield United on Saturday to record their sixth successive league victory and move within seven points of the play-offs. Having endured a torrid start to the season, one which threatened to condemn Pompey to a second consecutive relegation, Portsmouth fans will certainly take heart in the way their penniless side have rallied in recent weeks – exorcising any lingering fears of relegation. Manager Steve Cotterill was understandably proud of yet another victory: “It
“What we didn’t want to happen was to get to the last 10 minutes of the game with the score only 1-0. We knew there would be a lot of big balls into our box throughout the game. We had four up against our four defenders. There is no room for error with any of that. Had we taken our chances in the first 10 minutes, we could have been 3-0 up. That would have put a different slant on the game completely.”
Sheffield United, conversely, remain seemingly unable to get the win that would re-ignite their ailing season. Hermann Hreidarsson’s first-half header consigned the Blades, who are now six points behind 21st placed Crystal Palace, to their fourth successive defeat – ensuring that their wait for a victory under Micky Adams must continue. Adams remained resolute after the game as he argued that his side were unlucky to not snatch a point: “Nicked a point? I think that was the least we deserved, but once again it’s a fine line between success and failure. We’ve seen that again.
“We conceded a goal from a corner and for long periods of the game we had Portsmouth pinned back without it falling for us. It seems to be the story of our season. We conceded another goal from a set piece, which is obviously our Achilles heel. Then we attacked, but it has just not fallen for us in the box. We got into some great areas without really testing their goalkeeper. But we’re not down – we’ll keep going.”
Elsewhere, United’s relegation rivals Scunthorpe continued their fine recent form with a 1-0 home victory over high-flying Swansea. Manager Ian Baraclough believes that his side’s recent improvement, especially in front of their own fans, may be enough to prolong their stay in the Championship: “We know now we can beat anyone here. Our home form is going to be key for us now. We have just beaten the team that I believe is the best in the Championship. Swansea are a side who like to dominate possession and can cut teams to ribbons. We had a game plan to try and stop them. I know it might not have been very entertaining for our fans, but it got us the result we needed.”