I thought I wouldn't be able to see the game but some good friends back home sorted me a ticket on Wednesday morning. I heard last night that Grigg will play some part in the match but otherwise I'm in the dark about our line-up. Barnsley dropping two points at home was a great result for us and has made our run-in a lot less daunting so my spirits are up. I've got my red and white shirt on, Reg Vardy vintage, and will be heading off to Marylebone Station in less than an hour to meet an old schoolmate for a couple of pre-match beers. There were good omens from my match ticket as I’m in Row 31, the number of the house of my birth and the number of my home now, Seat 54, the year of my birth. Ian Porterfield also scored our F.A. Cup-winning goal in the 31st minute. We were better than Portsmouth in the away league fixture till we went down to ten men and I think we’ll win today but I’ve got the feeling it’ll go to extra-time and maybe penalties.
There was a mixed crowd of our fans and Portsmouth’s in the Victoria and Albert bar at Marylebone Station and a friendly atmosphere. For some reason the crowd at the bar thinned out around 12.00 leaving me the only one of our lot in the room. It was plastic glasses and I suspect they’d rounded the prices up. We took the train upto Wembley Stadium station and it was surprisingly quiet. I discovered that they wouldn’t let me into the stadium area as my computer bag was too big so I took everything out of it and stuck it behind a junction box nearby as the bag deposit was very far away and no doubt expensive while my bag was pretty knackered anyway. We made the slow ascent to the very top of the stadium and got a beer in before getting to our seats about fifteen minutes before the start. The stadium was almost exactly divided into areas of blue and red and in the sunshine all seemed well.
We dominated the first half and Portsmouth hardly had a sniff on goal after the opening exchanges. We deservedly went ahead about seven minutes before half-time after Portsmouth had played dangerously by conceding a number of free-kicks outside their box and we finally made one count. I could see McGeady limbering up for a crack at it and he lammed it into the net with the help of a slight deflection off a defender in the wall and a hand of the diving McGillivray in goal. He thoroughly deserved a goal as he’d tortured their defence again and again. We’d been defending really well and looked relaxed and comfortable throughout the side so as the whistle went for the break there was an air of optimism all around me. There was also an empty seat beside me and a number of others nearby so that made me wonder. There was a gargantuan queue for the bog so I decided to defer that pleasure.
The second-half was a different story altogether as apart from the first ten minutes or so when we continued to have the better of it, we proceeded to completely capitulate and it seemed inevitable that Pompey would get one back or worse. They brought Evans on for Curtis and after that we looked jittery and survived a number of attacks when it looked like they were going to score. We’d lost the midfield and were creating very little upfront. We replaced Morgan with Gooch, who showed some sparkle at least, and later brought on Power for Grigg and then Hume for James with just a few minutes to go. By the time Hume appeared we’d conceded when Thompson headed high into the net. There were acres of space in our defence and I wasn’t surprised to see them level. So it went to extra-time, as I’d thought it might well beforehand. We recovered in the first period and we also brought on Wyke for Leadbitter, which came as a surprise as I didn’t know about the fourth sub allowed in this competition. In the hundred and fourteenth minute Pompey took the lead and it was a good goal, I have to admit begrudgingly, when Lowe lobbed McLaughlin from some distance after our defence had been pulled out of position. This was the cue for a number of people around me to make for the exits but it wasn’t over yet and we pulled one back with two minutes to go. Good work by Hume down the left led to McGeady shooting from close range and his effort went over the line agonisingly slowly as a defender struggled to clear it. And so to penalties, which were taken at the Portsmouth end. Catts took our second and McGillivray saved it while all the others from both sides went in. It took an eternity to descend to the exit but we managed to get out just before Portsmouth received the trophy. On a positive note my computer bag was still where I stashed it and we got away from Wembley much more quickly than I’d expected. Most of our fans didn’t seem too upset and personally I’ll take this defeat as long as we beat them in the league and get promoted. I’ve never seen us beat Portsmouth for many a year and it’s about time we changed that.