Football: Ball sad to see Pompey's survival send his old club down

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The Independent Online
A MISTAKE by a former Manchester United player was responsible for firing the 3-1 victory by Portsmouth at Bradford yesterday which ensured the south coast club's First Division survival and helped send Manchester City down.

As a former manager of the Maine Road club, Portsmouth's Alan Ball had mixed feelings. "There's no satisfaction in City going down," he said. "I did my best for them but in the end it wasn't good enough.

"It was not a nice day - there are always going to be winners and losers in sport. We had to win and I'm absolutely thrilled for Portsmouth Football Club.

"When I came here we were seven points adrift at the foot of the table and some people must have thought I was daft to take on the job."

It was a freak goal which set Pompey on the road to survival. Bradford goalkeeper Gary Walsh, who played 50 times for United in a 10-year spell at Old Trafford, slipped on meeting Steve McAnespie's gentle back pass in the 40th minute, enabling John Durnin to put into an empty net.

Two more goals in 10 second-half minutes from Sammy Igoe and Durnin (74) confirmed a victory that alone would not have sent City down but did so in tandem with Port Vale's 4-0 win away to a lacklustre Huddersfield.

Bradford's Craig Ramage added a consolation with four minutes remaining and then a minute later Bradford substitute Robbie Blake was sent off after raising his elbow at Portsmouth's Robbie Pethick.

Former Swedish international midfielder Jan Jansson, returning from injury, scored a brace as the Terriers crashed to their heaviest-ever defeat at the McAlpine Stadium.

Vale got off to a tremendous start with Martin Foyle scoring inside two minutes before Jansson struck his first from close range, which was in stark contrast to his second.

Barry Horne was penalised for a foul some 40 yards from goal and Jansson, who cost pounds 150,000 from SK Norrkoping, unleashed a ferocious left-foot shot which beat the despairing grasp of Steve Harper. Lee Mills headed Vale's fourth.

Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest were unable to enjoy their title triumph in style as they were held 1-1 at West Brom, with an 88th-minute Lee Hughes penalty cancelling out Steve Stone's 18th-minute opener.

Meanwhile, John Aldridge finished his playing career in the most appropriate style, scoring both goals for Tranmere in a 2-1 home win over Wolves, a Don Goodman strike sandwiching the player-manager's double.

Bury beat Queen's Park Rangers 1-0 via a Gordon Armstrong goal, while Craig Bellamy's 57th-minute winner for Norwich was enough to beat already- relegated Reading at Elm Park.

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