THE SIX-APPEAL OF CHAMPIONS!
WINGER Carl Baker put into perspective the scene at Fratton Park last night after Portsmouth had clinched the League Two title with a six-goal hammering of Cheltenham.
More than 10,000 fans invaded the pitch and Baker and his team-mates responded by spending more than an hour in the directors’ box acknowledging their chants and cheers and spraying champagne.
“It is my second promotion in three years,” said Baker. “I had one at MK Dons and we celebrated then, but this was totally different, fantastic.
“To see all those fans stay behind is something I have never experienced before and it is a scene that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
And while Portsmouth only clinched the title because Plymouth and Doncaster failed to end their season with victories, Baker said it was not a total surprise in the Pompey dressing room.
He said: “It has been written in the stars for several weeks now. We felt it was something that was meant to be.
“We have this great run of ten wins from our last 12 games and they have been dropping points. We may have left it late but to win it by scoring six showed we deserved it.
“And the fans here have been so patient and supportive that they really deserve to enjoy it all.” It was five goals in the second half which sealed the title. The left-side combination of Kyle Bennett and Enda Stevens was a constant threat to Cheltenham, but they needed a helping hand to open the scoring in the 13th minute. Stevens’ fast and dangerous low cross was deflected past Scott Brown by Daniel O’Shaughnessy, and since Plymouth were losing at the time and Doncaster level with Hartlepool, Pompey were at the top of the table. But their attempts to consolidate their advantage before half-time were thwarted by two saves by Brown, while his opposite number David Forde needed sharp reactions to beat out a low, close-range shot from Dan Holman. However, when a 62nd-minute shot from Bennett took a wicked deflection to give Portsmouth their second it opened the floodgates.
During the next 13 minutes further goals from Kal Naismith, substitute Jamal Lowe and a penalty from Gareth Evans put the result beyond doubt that was never threatened by Cheltenham’s late goal from James Dayton.
The ageing stands at Fratton Park were not shaking because of the goalfest, but the news filtering through that both Doncaster and Plymouth were to be denied the wins they needed to clinch the title. Naismith’s second five minutes before the final whistle was just the icing on the cake. The noise level had already reached
ALL SMILES: Bennett celebrates LETTING FLY: Portsmouth’s Kyle Bennett scores their second goal