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Pompey-Oxford memories: Play-off rivals' most famous clash of all
Wednesday, 1st Jul 2020 21:45 by Steve Bone

In the run-up to Pompey's play-off matches v Oxford on Friday and Monday, I've been raiding the archives for old programme columns that refer to famous tussles with the men from the Manor Ground / Kassam Stadium.

In this one, from March 2017, probably the most famous Pompey-Oxford match of all made it into third place in a poll to find readers' favourite Blues game of all time, not including the obvious big occasions. Which game could it be? And which two were ranked even more memorable? Read on to find out...

At last we come to the top three in the search for your favourite Pompey games of all-time.

After months of gathering your votes for your top Blues match, we are finally at the end (thank goodness, some will say). Remember, to save obvious outcomes, I banned votes for any Wembley appearance, any match that secured promotion, a title or a relegation escape, and the AC Milan game.

A total of 99 games were nominated and I have skipped through many of them in the past two programmes.

Games that didn’t make the top three included the 1992 FA Cup semi-final and replay, the night Pompey took over Anfield, wins at The Dell and St Mary’s and home triumphs over Man Utd, Liverpool and Spurs.

So what did make the top three?

In third place, it’s a game that has its own title - The Santa Game. It was December 22, 1984, Pompey v Oxford in a huge tussle at the top of division two, and Oxford led 1-0 in the rain and mud.

Santa had invaded the pitch but the clock was ticking. Enter stage left, Alan Biley. Two headers later from the blond bombshell and Pompey had won.

Votes for this came from fans including Andrew Weller, Stauart Bettey and Darren Crisp.

And from Simon Parker, who recalled his mate leaving before the end and that ‘we were so wet on the north terrace’. Rob Morris said of it: ‘We looked dead and buried.’

Snavedog recalled ‘Fratton Park rocking in way only it can’.

In second place is the FA Cup quarter-final win at Old Trafford in 2008 that earned us our first visit to Wembley since 1942. This classic was nominated by fans including Daryl Puttock, Allan Swann, Ady Miles and Nigel Boothroyd.

Tweeter @wordsfailme summed it up nicely: ‘Some will say we were lucky but we earned it. World-class defending from a Portsmouth team.’ An emotional Hayley Newman added: ‘I cried from when we got the penalty to about five minutes after the game.’

The Old Trafford triumph is the only one of the top three I didn’t go to. I was covering a Bognor game that day and watched in disbelief on the big screen in the Rocks clubhouse before the game.

It wasn’t until a little while after full-time I realised we’d made it to Wembley. And to this day, I love re-watching that logic-defying Sylvain Distin goal-line clearance.

So to the winner, and it’s a certain 4-1 victory against a certain team from up the road in the dying embers of the 04-05 season. Pompey 4 Southampton 1, April 24, 2005.

It pretty much kept us up and sent them down. And it saw Fratton at its hostile best.

Votes flooded in from readers including Paul Mokler, Ed Galvin, Will Chitty, Kevin Elder, Robert Cusack, @Grabthepaw and Ant Coombes.

A remarkable, golden day is summed up bluntly by Jay Ricketts: ‘I’d waited my whole life to humiliate them.’ And Matt Allen puts it nicely too: ‘You can’t beat the 4-1 against the Scummers with Redknapp in charge of them. An atmosphere never to be repeated.’

There ends our delve into your personal favourite Pompey games.

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