Match-winner Christian Burgess saluted a ‘massive’ victory for Pompey over Luton yesterday and admitted: I was due a goal.
The defender’s first-half header – his third of the season – proved the difference as the Blues beat their promotion rivals 1-0 at Fratton Park.
Substitute Gary Roberts, back in selection contention following a two-game festive period break, missed from the penalty spot late on in the game.
It mattered little, though, as victory – which arrived in front of a bumper 17,402-strong crowd – saw Paul Cook’s side close the gap on the top three to four points.
And for central-defender Burgess, it was a game and result of the utmost importance as fourth beat fifth in the League Two table.
He said: ‘I’m delighted.
‘It was a massive game and a massive win for us.
‘In the second half they put us under a lot of pressure and probably edged it but we stood up to it well.
‘We could have scored a couple more and looked good on the counter, so we are delighted with the three points.
‘It’s not sweeter that it’s a win against a promotion rival but we knew they would leapfrog us with a win so it was a massive game.’
Burgess settled matters just after the half-hour mark with a towering header from Carl Baker’s inviting free-kick delivery.
But after waiting 13 games to net since his last effort – a 1-0 win at Leyton Orient in October – the 25-year-old insisted he could have had more than one goal to his name.
Burgess added: ‘I was delighted with the goal.
‘I just attacked it, really.
‘Their keeper probably wasn’t in the greatest position and I just nicked in front of him.
‘It was an open goal for me then and I was pleased to just get something on it.
‘I’ve scored a few in the past but I was thinking to myself: “I’m probably due one now!”
‘I haven’t really had a good chance for a while but I was delighted to score.
‘And I could have possibly had a second in the first half.
‘I was disappointed not to get that one on target but, obviously, if you can score goals it is a bonus for the team.
‘Most important, though, for us defenders is clean sheets and that is what we are working on.
‘And we will obviously take the clean sheet against a good side.
‘They only had one chance so overall I am very happy.’
And Burgess is now setting his sights on hunting down the four-point gap to third-placed Carlisle, who suffered a shock 3-1 defeat to Grimsby yesterday.
‘We have got some catching up to do on the top three,’ he added.
‘We are just trying to claw them back in and build some pressure and build a run.
‘We are looking to keep on keeping clean sheets and fingers crossed we can go on the run that we need.’