Inspirational captain Chris Willson epitomised a never-say-die attitude as he pulled his team out of the mire with four goals, helping to seal a thrilling last-gasp comeback as Portsmouth came from being 3-0 and then 4-2 behind to steal a dramatic 6-6 draw against a typically hard working Oxford side.
It was Portsmouth that started the game brightly, buoyed by a strong contingent of supporters and cheerleaders, dominating the early possession and creating chances aplenty, stirred by their captain Willson, who constantly acted as their main creative spark.
Away side Oxford set out in an organised, almost mechanical manner, looking to grind out a result by soaking up the relentless Portsmouth pressure and taking advantage through the counter attack.
And it was this tactic that brought about three goals without reply, as they capitalised on complacency in the Portsmouth ranks. Nevertheless, while several heads appeared to go down, the effervescent Willson produced a goal, almost out of nothing, dragging his team back into the game at the end of the first quarter with a sublime finish.
The second quarter was characterised by an increase in the levels of feistiness, with both teams adopting a more aggressive approach, culminating in an Oxford player being put in the sin bin for jabbing in the back.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Chris Pinkstone made an array of class saves to keep Portsmouth in the game; a trend that continued for the rest of the game, providing the building blocks for a Pompey fightback, as Adam ‘Tin-Tin’ Davidson finished with aplomb to bring it back to 2-3.
Nonetheless, as is often clichéd, you are your most vulnerable after scoring yourself, and this proved to be true, as Oxford went straight down the other end and reinstated their 2 goal deficit.
Enter the captain Willson, who finished superbly, not once, but twice, cutting in from the left and rifling past the hapless Oxford keeper; 4-4 and straight back in to the game. The third and fourth quarters demonstrated an increase in intensity, as Pinkstone continued to make crucial saves, while Portsmouth continued to press and force the issue.
Going into the final moments of the game, the scores were locked at 5-5, and just when the Portsmouth fans thought they had seen it all, Oxford again broke away and went 6-5 up.
Celebrations from Oxford suggested that they felt they had done enough to clinch this close-fought battle, but, right at the death, Portsmouth broke their hearts, as the men in purple had the last laugh, clinching a remarkable 6-6 draw.
If there were a roof, it most definitely would have come off, as their dedicated fans celebrated a memorable comeback, which Willson described as “tense”; which, in the context of this game, was definitely an under-statement.