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Lights out for Portimonense

By Skip Bandele

Ahead of what was supposed to have been a Sunday afternoon encounter with Leiria at the state-of-the-art Algarve Euro’2004 venue, Portimão Vice-President José Rebelo backed manager Litos with a vote of confidence.

“He is our coach today as he will be tomorrow or as he was three months ago or last season,” the official stated categorically.

“The team is playing very well but is not managing to win as we would wish to. We hope to achieve more positive results as soon

as possible.”

Until shortly after half-time that desire appeared to be on the way to being fulfilled until, that is, the stadium was plunged into darkness.

Almost 52 minutes into the match, with Portimonense leading 1-0 thanks to a very early Lito header, the referee was forced to halt proceedings due to poor visibility.

A faulty transformer made it impossible to restore the flood lights resulting in the decision to continue on Monday afternoon – with less than fortunate consequences for the home side.

While Calvin Kadi had come very close to making the game safe during a first half devoid of danger to the Portimão goal on Sunday, Leiria returned to the pitch 24 hours later a very different side.

This time around it took Santos only four minutes to restore parity before a Carlão strike in what was officially the 80th completed the turnaround. Beaten 2-1 as the final whistle sounded, Litos must have been wondering exactly what he must do to produce a change in the club’s fortunes – and for how long he will be able to hang on to his job.

Curiously, Portimão had experienced the exact same circumstances a year ago when a gnawing rat was blamed for a cup game against Academica being abandoned at the city’s municipal stadium.

That match ended goalless the subsequent afternoon, with Portimão advancing into the next round until an appeal by the vanquished team proved successful.

Following this latest defeat, Portimonense, now anchored in the second relegation place, find themselves four points adrift of safety.

A minor miracle will be needed on Sunday evening when Sporting will provide the opposition at the (hopefully illuminated) Stadium of the Algarve in a game which will be shown live on Sport TV1 from 8.15pm.