Pompey vs Saints, 2005

Pompey player Gareth Evans

Pompey Christmas quiz: Gareth Evans

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Four-one. Say it. Then say it again – as many times as you like.

It may not tell the full story, and it’s a scoreline which may not do justice to the superiority Pompey had from start to finish.

But still it sounds so, so sweet. Pompey 4 Southampton 1 – a result already in Fratton folklore.

With relegation threatening, all Pompey fans wanted was to win. A tense 1-0 triumph like the one of 13 months ago would have done.

But they got more. Much, much more.

They got a thrashing of the team they loathe the most, Southampton. They got safety for the Blues.

And they got the certainty they would finish above their biggest rivals in the league ladder for the first time since 1960.

Oh, and they got the sight of Southampton stranded in bottom place in the Premiership. Almost forgot.

Southampton’s manager? Harry Redknapp, who’d enraged Blues fans by moving to the city along the coast after a bust-up with Milan Mandaric.

Can there ever have been a more remarkable opening half-hour at Fratton Park?

By the time 26 minutes were up, Pompey were 4-1 up. A goal every five minutes – even if one of them was at the wrong end – had Fratton Park shaking like never before.

If anyone in the stands was in any doubt about how much Pompey’s players wanted this win, it took 15 seconds for the doubt to be dispelled.

That was when Matt Taylor launched himself into the first meaty challenge of the afternoon – earning a free-kick against Pompey and a massive cheer from the home crowd.

It was a passion, on and off the pitch, that could easily have been over the top and easily have had the opposite effect of that required. But it didn’t. It was just right.

It was the sort of passion that made every Pompey player fight for every ball and the crowd cheer every positive move by their own team and every little error – and there were plenty of them – by Southampton.

In a way it was no surprise Pompey were ahead within three minutes.

Gary O’Neil, to have the sort of afternoon that must have made Redknapp wish he had given him more of a chance, was the architect with a high ball from the halfway line that had Lomana Lualua chasing down Claus Lundekvam.

He did him for pace – easily – drew Antti Niemi and was brought down as he went past him.

Yakubu Ayegbeni nonchalantly stroked the penalty high past Niemi. Fratton went wild – little knowing what was to come – and sang ‘Judas, what’s the score?’

Lualua had seen a 25-yarder tipped over by Niemi by the time it was two.

Steve Stone was fouled by Nigel Quashie in the Milton end-south stand corner, and when Patrik Berger delivered the perfect free-kick the defence watched as Arjan De Zeeuw’s head thumped it in.

Just as the fans smelled a rout, Southampton got back into it with a goal from nowhere three minutes later.

Henri Camara looked to have little chance of even getting a shot in, let alone scoring, as he sprinted after a long ball in the inside-right channel.

But his pace put Dejan Stefanovic on the back foot, before De Zeeuw’s covering run failed to stop him getting in a shot, and it fizzed past Jamie Ashdown and into the far corner.

It could have got nervy had Southampton had time to sniff out an equaliser. But Lualua denied them that luxury – and how.

First he joined two defenders in chasing Berger’s 50-yard ball over the top.

Niemi came rushing out of his area but failed to get anything on it, and Lualua reacted fastest to curl the ball beautifully into the empty net before backflipping to the south stand to take the plaudits.

Four minutes later, as Alain Perrin prepared to bring on Diomansy Kamara with Lualua struggling with a hamstring injury, Yakubu and Stone ran at a now-terrified defence.

The move seemed to have broken down – before Lualua hit a brilliant shot from just outside the box which Niemi watched go in off the post, then went off. Job done, an hour early.

Less than half an hour gone, 4-1. Those not stunned into silence by what they were witnessing belted out the soundtrack to the afternoon – Sha la la, la la, la la la, we’re gonna send the Scummers down...’

And a couple of weeks later, down they went.

Pompey vs Saints, 2005

Date: 23 April 2005

Venue: Fratton Park

Scoreline: 4-1

Pompey Scorers: Yakubu (pen), De Zeeuw, Lualua (2)

Attendance: 20,000