'Unbreakable' Grant without 11 players for Cup tilt

Portsmouth 0 Blackburn Rovers

Matt Butler
Monday 05 April 2010 00:00
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As far as Avram Grant is concerned, there is only one more match worth worrying about this season. The Portsmouth manager did not even bother to see whether West Ham would upset the odds and beat Everton last night, which would have confirmed the south coast club's relegation from the Premier League.

Grant had given up on survival as soon as the decision was made to dock the club nine points for entering administration. So who cares if they go into this Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Spurs still with a mathematical chance of avoiding the drop?

Not Grant, who explained: "It is no secret that after we got the nine-point deduction we have been concentrating on the FA Cup because we want to give the supporters a great moment.

"The fighting spirit this club and the team has shown I am sure will stay here, whoever takes over, that is part of the club now."

Grant admits that he may struggle to fill a team-sheet after the defender Anthony Vanden Borre was ruled out of the semi-final by getting himself sent off for two bookings against Rovers at Fratton Park.

The Belgian, who joins 11 other Portsmouth players out of contention for the semi-final through injury or contractual reasons, was booked in the first half for a sliding tackle on Steven Nzonzi, before handling the ball after the break.

He insisted that he "got the ball, not the man" and he "tried to chest it down but it hit the top of my arm", but his absence is yet another problem for Grant. But, despite the Portsmouth manager's demeanor, he is determined to stay resolutely positive, adding: "It is not easy to break me, it takes more than what's happened at this club to do that. Yes, it has not been easy, but I am not a broken man."

Rovers – despite the all-round excellence of Pompey's Jamie O'Hara – should have won the game, with David Dunn and Christopher Samba both hitting the post. But manager Sam Allardyce has his mind on his summer break, after leading the team to safety. He said: "I can now book my holidays. I can think about having a nice break and think about the fact we have secured Blackburn Rovers' position in the Premier League."

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Ashdown; Rocha, Mokoena, Hughes (Sowah, 63min), Basinas; Vanden Borre, Mullins, Brown, O'Hara; Utaka (Piquionne, 72min), Kanu. Substitutes not used: O'Brien, Nlundu, Ward, Ritchie

Blackburn Rovers (4-1-4-1): Robinson; Salgado, Jones, Samba, Givet; Nzonzi (Grella, 62min); Diouf (Hoilett, 75min), Dunn (Kalinic, 80min), Pedersen, Olsson; Roberts. Substitutes not used: Brown, Emerton, Linganzi, Di Santo.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

Booked: Pompey: V Borre 44, Brown 74; Rovers: Dunn 50

Sent off: Portsmouth: Vanden Borre 65

Man of the match: O'Hara.

Attendance: 16,207.

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