‘It’s not impossible to take, but it’s bloody hard’ – US Portsmouth boss Glenn Turnbull on FA Vase semi-final heartbreak

‘It’s not impossible to take, but it’s bloody hard.’

Sunday, 9th May 2021, 5:19 pm
US Portsmouth boss Glenn Turnbull during Saturday's FA Vase semi-final. Picture: Tom Phillips

That was how US Portsmouth boss Glenn Turnbull summed up his side’s FA Vase semi-final heartache.

Underdogs US were within 10 minutes of booking a dream Wembley trip in normal time and also led in penalties before losing 4-3 to higher division Binfield.

‘I know we should feel proud, and when it sinks in we will. But at this moment in time I feel we haven’t over-achieved, I feel we’ve under-achieved,’ Turnbull said.

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‘I feel we have let people down, but deep down I know we haven’t … does that make sense?

‘Hopefully when the dust settles everyone will look back on this as a fantastic achievement.’

On the balance of play, Binfield were deserved winners - though penalties is always a cruel way to decide a game of such magnitude.

‘I don’t feel aggrieved about the result - the better team won,’ Turnbull remarked.

‘They hit the bar, they hit the post twice, they missed from eight yards out

‘The only disappointing thing is that we gifted them their goal.

‘We lost the ball cheaply and didn’t take our opportunities to clear it before the kid (Ferdinand) got his shot in.’

US twice went close in the opening 10 minute of the second half to doubling the lead James Franklyn had given them in the first half.

Franklyn saw a shot blocked and his follow up header drift wide, before Andrew Todd’s back post header was tipped over his bar by keeper Chris Grace.

‘If Franko had taken his chance, or Sweeney’s header had gone in, the game would almost have been over,’ rued Turnbull.

‘You have to take your chances - Flackwell didn’t take them the week before and we didn’t take ours yesterday.

‘Penalties is a lottery, it’s 50/50 … I’m not putting the blame on anyone, I just feel ... we were 10 minutes from Wembley and we gave it away in normal time and then again in penalties.

‘To fall at the final fence … it’s not impossible to take, but it’s bloody hard.’

The boss said the memorable Vase run - the best by a Portsmouth area side in history - has seen his squad tested like never before.

‘I have always believed in them,’ he said. ‘Am I surprised (at how well the squad have done)? No. Am I proud? Yes.

‘We stood up to Christchurch, we ground out a result last week (against Flackwell Heath). We have answered questions that we hadn’t been asked before.’

USP’s season is not yet over, as they host Bemerton in a Wessex League Cup semi-final next Saturday.

‘When we got back together after lockdown I said I wanted to win the Wessex League Cup and go as far in the Vase as we could,’ Turnbull said.

‘We’ve been promoted, we went a long way in the Vase, and if we win the Wessex Cup it would be a highly successful season.

‘That’s why we can’t dwell on this (Vase loss). If we’re not 100 per cent focussed next week we’ll have lost two semi-finals.’

Regarding the Binfield game, he added: ‘We just told them what we’d told them before - if they could all put in a seven out of 10 display and hopefully one or two could do a bit more.

‘We knew they liked to hit crossfield diagonals to the two wide men (Sean Moore on the left and Oliver Harris on the right) and it was a case of trying to nullify that.

‘Their two midfield screens (Jamie McClurg and Kensley Maloney) were quite good … they were a good side, they were the better team.

‘The one passage of play we had in the first half we opened them up and scored.

‘Perhaps the occasion got to one or two of them, but I didn’t think we played as well as we did in previous rounds.

‘Tom Jeffes did well, the back three were resolute, I thought Callum Glen was our man of the match. With Sarge (Harry Sargeant) in there as well, it gave us a hell of a block for them to try and break down.’