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Decision Day?

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 16/05/2001

One of the closest finishing races in the first division for years continues tonight when Portsmouth go into their vital match with Crystal Palace at Fratton Park (7.45pm). If Pompey beat Palace they will be safe and so will Grimsby and Huddersfield.

A draw would see Grimsby safe and Palace clinging to the hope they can beat Stockport and relegation on the last day if Pompey lose to Barnsley. A palace win would leave all three teams in limbo until the last day.

Also in the boiling pot is Huddersfield who could only draw 1-1 at Wimbledon last night, leaving them five points clear of Palace and two of Pompey, with only one game to play. A Palace win therefore could open up a number of permutations.

Portsmouth

Goalkeeper Aaron Flahavan could be back in the first team after a groin strain and Midfielder Nigel Quashie has recovered from a dead leg and may also be playing. Striker Lee Bradbury will also be playing against his old club.

Manager Graham Rix is expected to adopt an attacking formation against a Palace side whose form is worse than Pompey's since their February Worthington Cup semi final with Liverpool. Lee Mills will be up front to partner Lee Bradbury with Kevin Harper or Mike Panopoulos being dropped

Crystal Palace

With Alan Smith getting the sack this week, Chief scout Steve Kember will take charge of the team along with Terry Bullivant and the bad news for them is that Andrejs Rubins is out for the rest of the season with a leg injury suffered against Wolves at the weekend. However Julian Gray and Simon Rodger are expected to be in the squad.

Grimsby Town fans will be hoping for a draw or a win by Pompey to ensure their safety before the last game against Fulham at Blundell Park next Sunday.

Next Story, Lennie comments: Who Goes Who Stays?


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