Writes: Evan Halliday
Portsmouth retain The EAFA Cup beating season-long foes Chelsea and treble chasing Everton in the tournament on their way to retrieving the prize.
Pompey showed their class throughout their run to the eventual trophy lift, putting Chelsea to the sword in a comfortable 5-1 win in the opening fixture before battling for a 5-2 win in a fierce final game with Everton where both sets of players left everything on the pitch.
In that crunch game, Portsmouth’s young goalkeeper Thomas Atkinson put on an immense performance, displaying his quality with key saves, including a world class double save to keep the tie in his team’s favour.
“It was an unbelievable game, both sides worked incredibly hard, leaving everything out on the pitch but I feel we deserved the win in the end and I’m absolutely buzzing to have been a part of this win and the lads can bring our trophy back to Portsmouth,” said the shot stopper.
Everton had previously got the better of the south coast side, beating them in the FA Disability cup and pipping them to the post in the league on the final day but this crunch game wrote a different story.
“We had worked on a few different ways to right our wrongs of previous meetings with Everton and the tactical tweaks paid dividends and was a key reason for this victory along with a couple changes in personnel but importantly there was a clear attitude change within the dressing room,” Atkinson shared.
Along with seven goals, the audience were treated to some fierce contests all over the pitch which eventually led to the controversial sending off of Portsmouth captain Ray Westbrook and a handful of yellow cards dished out to both sides.
“When two top-quality opponents go head-to-head in a crucial game, it’s inevitably going to become feisty as both teams are desperate to get the win,
“In the end, we got over the line despite the red card but there’s no point dwelling on that as we should focus on what we have achieved and the final result is all that matters,” said the 19-year-old.
Portsmouth trophy cabinet still remains open as they hope to bring home the Champions League crown to England and this triumph acts as a massive momentum builder,
“The cup win is a massive indicator of where we are but the performances that we displayed are arguably more important in building and instilling some positivity into the lads,
“In the EAFA cup we’ve played two strong teams and it will be the same in the Champions League when we play some of the best teams across Europe in that competition so it has been great preparation for that,” Atkinson said.
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