The Heartbreak of Handball: Pompey, Charlton and Other Errors

Simon MartinSenior Writer IApril 5, 2008

It's heartbreaking when you've come so far to be denied your chance at the FA cup, and no neutral supporter could have felt any more sympathetic with Kevin Philips yesterday after seeing Milan Baros - already cautioned - handled the ball, controlled and sent the ball onto Kanu to score and knock West Brom out of the FA cup.

It was a devastating loss. West Bromwich Albion were magnificent yesterday, and really took the game to their Premier League counterparts. They dominated the first period, and worked hard in the second.

But I know that things would have been very different if Milan Baros had been sent off for a second yellow as a result of the handball. Pompey wouldn't have scored for one - it would have been 0-0 with 30 minutes to play, and Pompey down to ten men.

Howard Webb bottled out. I know it, you know it, and hopefully this morning, after a lamblasting from the Referee's association, he knows it too. Considering he was perfectly placed to see the foul, to not give it is appalling, and indicative of a referee playing to his main bias - the Premier League teams.

Handball was the heartbreak yesterday for West Brom, but for my team, fellow Championship play off hopefuls Charlton Athletic, handball was the deciding factor in a very much tense and well fought affair.

In the second minute, Nicky Weaver mistimed his clearance, and handled the ball just outside his area - and was sent off. Charlton subbed on reserve goalkeeper Elliot for his debut - and the game began again!

I can't remember a single other match this season that got the Charlton players so wound up as to win a match!!! They were determined, always running, playing the sort of football ten matches ago would have seen them go top from second - t was not be then, but our hopes remain alive now!!!

So there's a flip side to this handball business. Charlton, down to ten men for 91 minutes, won 2-1 through sheer grit and determination - Portsmouth should have been down to ten men, for the last 30 minutes of their match, and in my opinion, West Brom, in the ascendancy, would have nicked it at the end.

It was a close run thing in both matches, but to compare Charlton's win to West Brom's loss is laughable.

My greatest sympathies to the gutted West Brom fans. My only consolation to them is that Portsmouth were by no means the better team on the day.