Not so long ago, I really didn't want to go to Wembley again. This last week? I really do, and now, tickets providing, I'm going. Jack Ross's brave tactical formation worked, each and every player did his bit, and Pompey aren't going up - which gives us extra incentive to win at Wembley and thus avoid another trip to the New Millwall.
First up, apologies for not be there. When the holiday was planned, we thou we'd got it shoehorned in nicely between the semi-finals and the final.
But we hadn't, so an early flight from Leeds/Bradford meant no Pompey for me, but me old marra Stubber had sorted a pub who'd be showing the game. On the telly? Last time I watched us on the telly, Byron scored.
Anyhow, we fetched up at the Albert in Yeadon, where the Dorty Leeds mural was still spattered with blood and snot from the previous evening's nonsense, and far from it being anti-Sunderland, our band of six found another fan, and the other locals shouting for Charlie Wyke in deference to his Bradford days.
O'Nien Ozturk Flanagan Oviedo
Catt's Power Leadbitter
Honeyman Wyke Maguire
Tetchy? You bet. We had a plan, they had a plan, and while our involved a bit of football, theirs involved a bit of largely unsuccessful winding up. Speaking of winding up, Maguire could have run a squadron of laggy-band powered aeroplanes as he worked more tickets than a Northern Buses clippy. (Ask her dad)
Two yellows early on, with the second deserving of a red when Naylor threw the ball at Maguire's head, had us in top in the psychological battle, although a different ref might have been harsher on our number 7 when he "fell" onto their man
Never mind, we let the home side move the ball sideways but rarely forward, and when we won it back, passed it around nicely to feed Wyke, who steadfastly refused to respond to Mr Manbun's crude attentions. You're certainly not Zlatan, mate - get a haircut.
Another Pompey yellow, and we were wondering how man they'd have in the field at the final whistle. Our little band in the Albert were up on our feet shouting at the ref and the players, expecting a Leeds surge from the bar at any moment- but, like any incisive Pompey play, it didn't happen. We'd had some chances, with Power shooting over and Leadbitter drawing another fine save from the increasingly irritating McGillivray and won a few corners that Grant couldn't quite put on anybody's head.
When three added minutes were announced, we prayed for half time and a chance to work out how to get the killer goal. Maguire nearly got through when he goes the ball over the keeper but list his footing, and that made the home crowd even more nervous.
No immediate changes for the second half, and we made the home side work for every bit of play they had. Maguire hasn't been noted for his chasing back, but tonight he was back there helping out when needed.
Thompson decided to try the diving option when he'd fouled Wyke, but the ref was havimg none of it and told him to get up. Oviedo picked up a loose clearance but shot just over to show the home side that we meant business.
When they brought on James Vaughan, presumably in an attempt to rattle us, Maguire was taken of as a precaution - it would have been madness to have those two on the same piece of grass for any length of time. On came Gooch in his place
Tetchiness prevailed, but we generally rose above it, even when O'Nien ended up in a Speedie situation and was quite clearly kicked by a fat bloke in what looked like a hoodie, before the same fat bloke looked to throw a lunch at Luke. Thankfully, someone prevented Power from thumping the bugger, and Catt's declined the offer of fisticuffs.
Morgan came on for Power with ten to go, and five minutes later Grigg was on for Wyke. We were in our feet shouting at the telly as we frustrated Pompey and eventually six added minutes were announced. I received a message from our Ian which said "why do we support these? I'm a shell of a man" but in reality the home side's attacks either for nowhere or ended up on McLaughlin's fingertips or toe end.
To the ref's credit, he matched our "5 4 3 2 1" countdown perfectly and blew at the prescribed time.
We might go up, Portsmouth won't.
Man of the Match? Difficult. Nobody had a weak evening. McLaughlin was superb, standing tall when needed, and everybody else did their job almost perfectly. Wyke took a battering and just got on I with it, Power moved the ball about well, and Leadbitter calmed things down and took some nice corners and frees.
For me, though, Catt's was the feller. Never once rise to provocation, he bossed things, broke up Pompey play, and fired his mates up no end. Full marks to all the players, though, and our fans as well - great support in the face of shredded nerves. We did what we had to do and provided a git big slap in the face for those who've questioned Ross's formations and/or substitutions - he got them right today.
Off to Kefalonia with a victory in my heart.