Guy Butters: My Portsmouth regret over infamous Sunderland handball

Guy Butters blames it on the impetuosity of youth.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 9:30 am

When Alan Knight punched out Gary Owers' cross on 36 minutes, it fell invitingly to Gordon Armstrong.

The midfielder’s goal-bound lob was subsequently palmed off the line by Butters.

It set in motion a 4-1 Blues defeat, a May 1993 outcome which cost Jim Smith’s side automatic promotion to the Premier League.

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Guy Butters suffered Pompey agony when Jim Smith's side visited Sunderland in May 1993
Guy Butters suffered Pompey agony when Jim Smith's side visited Sunderland in May 1993

Butters earned a red card for his indiscretion, while Paul Walsh was also later dismissed in that Roker Park encounter.

Now, 26 years later, Kenny Jackett’s in-form side are to head to the Stadium of Light.

Defeat would condemn them to the play-offs, as it did Butters and his team-mates.

The former central defender said: ‘I was a bit young, a bit impetuous, full of bravado.

‘You think you are bulletproof when you are 23 and, in hindsight, when you are a bit older and a bit more experienced I would have dealt with it differently.

‘Knightsie punched it and didn’t make a great connection, so it was put back in. As a defender, your natural instinct is to not concede, you have to try to do something.

‘Before you know it, I stuck out a hand and saved it. Literally a quarter of a yard closer and and I would have headed it.

‘Click your fingers, that’s how quickly you have to make a decision. It was the wrong decision.

‘I think it would have been a tough task going up there and winning anyway, but for nine men it wasn’t going to happen.

‘We should still have won in the play-offs against Leicester, it was an offside goal.

‘Mind you, I've seen a YouTube clip and the commentator and the caption were wrong – they called me ‘Gary’ Butters. So technically it wasn’t me!

‘Besides, I always blame Knightsie, he should have punched it further.’

Despite winning their final match, Smith’s side were beaten to second place through goals scored.

They then lost out 3-2 on aggregate to Leicester in those 1992-93 play-offs.

Butters added: ‘Jackett's men have beaten Sunderland twice this season.

‘It’s a perfect example of having cool heads, relax, stay in the game for as long as you can

‘Keep plugging away, keep believing in yourself, you never know what could happen.’