Jerome hammers nails into Portsmouth's coffin

Portsmouth 1 Birmingham City 2
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The Independent Football

The euphoria that followed Saturday's FA Cup quarter final victory was quickly replaced by the resumption of Portsmouth's countdown to relegation. Cameron Jerome's first-half goals extracted early revenge for Birmingham for their weekend defeat, while Avram Grant's side were left with a reminder that their time in the Premier League is almost certainly drawing to a close.

Birmingham had left here at the weekend harbouring a sense of injustice that Liam Ridgewell's second-half header had been ruled out despite appearing to cross the line. There were no such narrow margins on this occasion as City completed a routine win with the ease expected from a team whose ambitions have long since advanced from mere survival.

Pompey, meanwhile, confirmed that they are enduring a countdown to relegation that will be hastened if and when the High Court confirms the club's move into voluntary administration, triggering the nine-point penalty deduction that will all but guarantee the drop. Grant admitted the prospect of the points deduction looms large over his side.

"I think when they are coming on to the pitch they want to win," the Portsmouth manager said. "But when you're always hearing about the nine points and this situation, we cannot do anything. The situation isn't easy."

The club's move into administration meant they were unable to submit their accounts as part of their application for the Uefa club license required by all teams entering European competition. That means that, unless Fulham win the Cup, the team finishing seventh will get into Europe although Alex McLeish claimed that was a target too far for his improving side. "I don't think seventh is realistic," said McLeish. "To get places in Europe, to get to seventh, you need a striker who's got 15 or 16 goals."

Jerome's goals were his sixth and seventh of the season – below par by McLeish's criteria – although he took both well after being set up by Christian Benitez. Kanu headed a reply in added time but too late to affect the outcome.

Portsmouth (4-4-2) James; Hreidarsson, Finnan, Ben-Haim, Belhadj; O'Hara, Brown (Kanu, 65), Wilson (Owusu-Abeyie, h-t), Piquionne; Webber (Basinas, h-t), Dindane. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Mokoena, Mullins, Diop.

Birmingham City (4-4-2) Hart; Ridgewell, Johnson, Dann, Parnaby (Tainio, 52); Ferguson, Marcos Madera (Larsson, 77), Fahey, Gardner; Jerome, Benitez (McFadden, 80). Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Murphy, Queudrue, Jervis.

Referee: M Jones (Cheshire).

Booked: Portsmouth Belhadj; Birmingham City Marcos Madera, Benitez.

Man of the match: Ferguson.

Attendance: 18,465.

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