Portimonense were unlucky to only take a share of the spoils at home against Penafiel over the weekend but held on to the second promotion place as pursuing Freamunde and Famalicão could only play out a goalless draw.
On Sunday afternoon, Pires was thwarted by opposition keeper Ivo on two occasions during the opening 45 minutes before an injury time Gonçalo Abreu free kick gave Penafiel the lead against the run of play.
After the interval, Portimonense stepped up their attacking play and were duly rewarded when Ricardo Pessoa equalised from a dead ball situation on the hour mark.
Roared on by the estimated 5,000 fans, Nicolau and Fabricio came closest to securing all three points but were denied by Ivo and the woodwork, respectively. Then, with four minutes of added time ticking away, well-positioned referee João Pinheiro inexplicably failed to punish the most obvious of handballs in the visitors’ area, thus denying Portimonense deserved victory.
With only three matches remaining, José Augusto’s men will be looking to at least maintain their two-point cushion while closing the now five-point gap on promotion favourites Chaves who come to the Algarve on Sunday, May 8. Before then a win at bottom club Oliveirense this Saturday afternoon is an absolute must if top tier status next season is to become a reality.
By SKIP BANDELE