Portimonense’s relegation dogfight which saw them leave the bottom two Liga Orangina places for the first time this year only two weeks ago ultimately ended in tears.
The season’s closing game on Madeira began promisingly enough when União keeper Mat Jones failed to hold on to a Semedo effort to hand the Algarveans the lead. Unfortunately it took the home side only four minutes to equalise through Tome. The match assumed a more sedate pace thereafter, both clubs safe in the knowledge that a share of the points should have been good enough to ensure survival for both.
Only when the news that fellow relegation candidates Arouca had defied all expectations by drawing level at champions Estoril did proceedings assume a sense of urgency once more. During the ensuing melee Portimão defender Tininho managed to divert a União cross into his own goal as the final whistle was blown.
Results from across the country revealing that all three of the other clubs involved in the scramble to retain first division status had either drawn or won confirmed Portimão’s worst fears – last place was theirs and the regionalised second division beckons come September.
For now the stricken club can only hope for a miracle or risk vanishing in a debt-ridden financial morass. When in an identical situation at the end of the 2003/2004 season the league committee permitted a stay of execution when demoting insolvent Salgueiros instead.
This time around Portimonense still has a chance if that same committee’s appeal to the Portuguese FA vis-à-vis the increase in the number of clubs competing in each of the top two leagues is successful- watch this space! Skip Bandele