Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Dominic Booth at the Toughsheet Community Stadium

Portsmouth’s League One promotion party on hold as Bolton fight for draw

Aaron Collins equalises for Bolton against Portsmouth in League One
Aaron Collins equalises for Bolton against Portsmouth in League One. Photograph: Gary Oakley/Getty Images

One more point. The last time Portsmouth were in the Championship, the Harry Potter films topped the box office, Fabio Capello was the England manager and Abu Kamara, Pompey’s goalscorer, was eight years old.

Now one more point is all they need after a battling 1-1 draw at third-placed Bolton took them closer to a return to the second tier. A famous Fratton Park festival surely awaits, with Portsmouth hosting Barnsley on Tuesday.

After six minutes, Kamara looked set to get the Pompey party started as he pounced on a loose Bolton pass, darted in from the right flank and arrowed home with his left foot. Cue bedlam among the away supporters.

Three points would have been a robbery on the day, mind, as Bolton dominated possession, pushing harder and harder in the knowledge that only a win would keep their fate in their own hands. Portsmouth were resolute, though.

Bolton earned an equaliser and carved out enough opportunities to get all three points. Their leveller came on the 36-minute mark with the magical Paris Maghoma at the heart of matters, shifting the ball elegantly left to Nathanael Ogbeta, whose cross was nodded home by the striker Aaron Collins.

Bolton went close in the second half. The substitute Dion Charles struck a post with a canny guided effort late on, after George Thomason had lasered one wide and was then smothered by Norris when he dashed through. But they did not quite do enough and Portsmouth regrouped, retaining their gap to third.

John Mousinho insisted his side did everything they could to win, but is now relishing the chance to finish the job. “We wanted to get it done today but it doesn’t always work out like that,” he said. “Going back to Fratton on Tuesday night with the opportunity to do it in front of our longsuffering home fans is going to be a brilliant occasion.”

For seven seasons, between 2003 and 2010, this was a Premier League fixture, before Pompey dropped through the trapdoor and Bolton followed two years later.

Both have been seldom seen at the top level since after sinking to financial ruin. Both plummeted as low as League Two and have been in the fourth tier more recently than they have occupied the Championship. This ding-dong contest, played out in front of a crowd of 25,738, was a reminder of why returning to that level means so much. The two sets of supporters have tasted the Premier League elixir.

Mousinho said: “I’ve only been involved with the club for 18 months, but I can feel the sense of frustration with what the fans have gone through in the past 15 years. The club were hours from liquidation.

“I can’t quite imagine what the Pompey fans have gone through. I know how much football means to the city and I can’t wait to reward them.”

  • Download the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhone or the Google Play store on Android by searching for 'The Guardian'.
  • If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you’re on the most recent version.
  • In the Guardian app, tap the Menu button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.
  • Turn on sport notifications.

Portsmouth are almost there. Bolton, relying on some dropped points by Derby – who beat Leyton Orient 3-0 to stay four points clear in second place having played a game more – are now living on a prayer.

Ian Evatt said: “It’s frustrating but we’re still fighting. But we haven’t lost it, you never know in football. Derby can’t afford to even draw, they have to win two games. We’ve got to be in a position to capitalise on any slip-ups.”

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.