Reading 2 Portsmouth 3: Neil Allen's verdict - There's no ignoring the good omens as remarkable Blues continue to break new ground

Colby Bishop completes Pompey's recovery in the ninth minute of time added-on in the first half against Reading. The Blues went on to win 3-2. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImagesColby Bishop completes Pompey's recovery in the ninth minute of time added-on in the first half against Reading. The Blues went on to win 3-2. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages
Colby Bishop completes Pompey's recovery in the ninth minute of time added-on in the first half against Reading. The Blues went on to win 3-2. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages
The tennis balls were the Father Christmas moment, the comeback reminiscent of Crystal Palace. The omens are everywhere.

Pompey were facing defeat after 33 minutes of action at the Madejski Stadium amid a fragmented first-half display punctured by protests from the Reading faithful.

Reeling after shipping two goals inside four calamitous minutes, the leaders were contemplating a first league defeat since March. Worst of all, arriving against a club languishing second from bottom and embroiled in financial turmoil.

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Then something special occurred. It remains to be seen whether it warrants inclusion in Pompey folklore, yet what unfolded on Saturday could well signal a defining moment in a successful return to the Championship.

Certainly should there be any lingering doubts over the Blues’ promotion credentials, then a subsequent 3-2 success must surely have banished them.

Entering November, Pompey are six points clear at League One’s summit following 15 matches – unconquered, unmatched and undeniably a quality act.

Granted, a mere third of the season has now passed, or, to be entirely precise, 32.61 per cent. Nonetheless, Mousinho’s men have tantalisingly established a dominant standing.

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Should they have stumbled to defeat against the Royals, as once seemed plausible, they would have still remained a victory ahead of their nearest rivals. A sobering reflection of this galloping start.

Of course, the Blues had already racked up 14 points from losing positions this term as they headed to Reading as one of two unbeaten sides in the entire Football League.

Yet never had they managed to scrap their way back from a two-goal defeat, let alone overhauling it to improbably win the fixture. That was until Saturday broke new ground.

It wasn’t merely the comeback, it was the manner of a magnificent winner, with the press retrieving the ball through Alex Robertson and embarking on an attack consisting of 13 passes and involving nine of Pompey’s 10 outfield players – before volleyed home by Terry Devlin for a 3-2 triumph.

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Poor Reading. Well-taken strikes from Lewis Wing and Charlie Savage during that four-minute burst failed to demoralise their opponents. Remarkably, in this instance, it actually invigorated a Blues side in desperate need of a mighty boot up the backside.

Tino Anjorin had been recalled to the side and tasked with operating on the left flank, yet his defensive limitations were ruthlessly exposed in both the hosts’ goals, as he floundered in and around his own penalty area.

Nonetheless, on 31 minutes, man-of-the-match Paddy Lane produced an inviting cross from the right, which was effortlessly struck on the volley as the Chelsea loanee entered the box for a stunning finish. The fightback was now in progress.

However, two earlier first-half stoppages following tennis balls being hurled onto the pitch by disgruntled home supporters against owner Dai Yongge proved pivotal.

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Referee Martin Coy, who had already threatened to abandon the game after the second incident, added eight-and-a-half minutes to compensate for the delays.

With seconds of the first half remaining, Terry Devlin’s shot was blocked and Lane calmly squared from the right for Colby Bishop to tap home a leveller, completing the comeback before the half had even ended.

Ironically, the hearts of Reading fans had been broken during time added-on following their own protests, while many Pompey fans will recall similarities with match-winner Alan Biley netting twice in stoppage time after Father Christmas’ on-pitch entrance had disrupted play against Oxford United in December 1984.

Other parallels were still to come, namely the August 2002 Selhurst Park match where the Blues trailed 2-0 at half-time, prompting Harry Redknapp to make two substitutions and switch to wing-backs.

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The visitors stormed back to triumph 3-2 – and went on to secure a place in the Premier League at the end of that season.

Back to the modern day and the improbable result was sealed by Devlin on his maiden Football League start, volleying home Bishop’s clever header back across goal.

The 19-year-old had totalled just 30 minutes of first-team action in the league since his arrival from Glentoran, yet the shock decision proved inspired as Pompey collected a 10th league victory of the season, while devastated Reading were nursing a 10th league defeat.

League titles and promotions are not settled on days like this, and inevitably there will be blips along the journey, but the portents continue to stack up impressively.

In the 125th anniversary year of Pompey’s formation, it is daring to develop into an iconic campaign.