Jack Diamond's 'unbelievable' winner was nothing more than Harrogate Town deserved at Portsmouth FC
Jack Diamond described the moment in which he netted Harrogate Town’s winning goal against Portsmouth as “unbelievable”, but insisted that he and his team-mates only got what their performance warranted.
The on-loan Sunderland winger stretched to stab home Alex Pattison’s low cross from the left in the very last seconds of stoppage-time, sealing a shock 2-1 success for the League Two Sulphurites.
Saturday’s dramatic victory at Fratton Park saw Harrogate end League One Pompey’s nine-match unbeaten run, but, more significantly, it secured passage to the competition’s third round for the first time in the Wetherby Road outfit’s 107-year existence.
And, while the result undoubtedly falls into the ‘upset’ category, Diamond revealed that he would have been disappointed had the match finished a draw, such was the quality of Town’s display.
"I kept looking at the clock and it was getting closer and closer to a replay and all the boys had put in so much graft, I thought it would be a shame to only get a draw out of the game," the 21-year-old told the Harrogate Advertiser.
"Going into it, we'd have probably thought that was a good result but the way we performed from front to back, I thought we deserved to win.
"We 100 per cent deserved to go through. We were very good defensively and we had more chances to win the game than Portsmouth did.
"I missed a good opportunity before my goal which I was replaying in my head the whole time. So, when the ball came to me and I scored I was just relieved.
"To top it off like that with the winner, it was just completely unbelievable."
Portsmouth began Saturday's contest well and created some decent opportunities to get their noses in front early on, only to then fall behind in the 44th minute as Luke Armstrong curled in his 10th goal of the season.
Ellis Harrison drew the hosts level almost immediately, though they failed to ever really threaten the away goal during the second period, while, by comparison, Town looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
Armstrong, Alex Pattison and Diamond all missed chances to restore the Harrogate advantage before the latter eventually did with almost the last kick of a memorable afternoon.
And the Sulphurites' loan star attributes the energy and desire on show during the closing stages of the match to the belief instilled in them by manager Simon Weaver and his back-room team.
"I think everyone knows the threat we have got going forwards," Diamond added.
"I think the energy we played with is down to belief. We know how good we are. The gaffer and all the staff always drill into us how good we are going forwards and they constantly hammer home that we need to bring that energy because teams can't live with us.
"When we're told that all the time, it is just easier to do. Everyone wants to do it, everyone wants to be the one who gets that goal or assist."
While Town could end up being paired with one of the giants of the game in the third round of the competition, their immediate focus now shifts to a sequence of seriously difficult-looking League Two fixtures.
Currently seventh in the table, they entertain leaders Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday evening, then host second-placed Northampton this Saturday before travelling to sixth-placed Sutton United seven days later.
Diamond, however, believes that beating Portsmouth will leave Harrogate in a good place as they embark on their upcoming tough run.
"To go and win like that with the big games we have coming up, I think it is massive," he continued.
"It just shows that this isn't a small club. We've got a great team. We are going to these places and we're putting a marker down and showing everyone what we can do."