Grant & Pompey fight on
Avram Grant - the trademark dark clothes a sombre reflection of his low-key personality - bowed theatrically and uncharaceristically in front of ecstatic fans. It was as if victory against Southampton was his and Portsmouth's FA Cup final.
It may turn out to be just that after Pompey were given only a week to draw up a statement of the club's financial affairs and given a provisional High Court date of 1 March to hear their winding-up petition.
This comes five days before the scheduled FA Cup quarter-final, so a win against the despised arch-rivals from 15 miles down the south coast may yet prove their last fling in a competiton they won two seasons ago.
The only winding-up Portsmouth were subjected to on Saturday came courtesy of Saints' fans waving wallets and cash in their direction, and the sight of fake sheikhs dotted around St Mary's.
Grant enjoys a rare chance to celebrate a Portsmouth win
Grant has proved an unlikely figurehead in Pompey's days of crisis, from the fiery and out of character confrontation with referee Kevin Friend at half-time in the draw against Sunderland last Tuesday to the emotional scenes on and off the pitch after a flattering 4-1 win at St Mary's.
He even entered the media theatre with his mobile phone glued to his ear relaying news of his triumph to his son. "Everything's OK. We won," he said.
Not quite Avram. Everything is obviously not OK at Fratton Park, but for now the second vital victory in Portsmouth's week would do nicely, especially coming on this hostile enemy territory.
Grant has been forced to indulge in crisis management from the moment he succeeded Paul Hart, and he admitted: "People always ask me to write a book about Chelsea. It is better to write a book about Portsmouth. It would be a best seller. You could write a book every day at Portsmouth."
It was a passionate performance, but not so clever when Grant aimed an attack at the Premier League's lack of fair play for imposing a transfer embargo on the club in January.
They were fortunate to be able to make even loan signings given their parlous position, and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, one such arrival from Spartak Moscow, proved a game-changer at St Mary's, pulling Pompey out of a pit of struggle and putting them on the path to victory.
Grant has no real cause for complaint. How can he when Pompey get a stay of execution and more time to fight the winding-up order - and then bring in another player in the shape of Dusko Tosic? How must the people owed money view that?
All the sympathy must be reserved for Pompey's fans, out in force and vociferous again in their hour of need and an easy target for neighbours Southampton, who have found the sort of owner and benefactor in Swiss-German businessman Markus Liebherr that they crave at Fratton Park.
Liebherr is neither heard nor seen, but there is fierce ambition behind the scenes at St Mary's and a determination to fast-track to the Premier League. If it all comes at Portsmouth's expense so much the better, at least as far as Saints' supporters are concerned.
This derby meeting is not a case of no love lost, but undiluted hatred in many quarters. Hate is a strong word, but not for some of the scenes inside and outside St Mary's on Saturday as fans clashed with police.
As the action unfolded amid simmering mutual hostility, the game appeared little more than a sideshow to many fans intent only on verbal confrontation and more besides with their opposite numbers.
If Grant is ever tempted to put pen to paper on his time at Pompey, he might reflect on what a different ending this particular story could have had if Southampton had taken advantage of the superiority they exerted for an hour.
Pompey were indebted to goalkeeper David James, particularly as he saved from Papa Waigo N'Diaye and Adam Lallana, although he demonstrated the uncertainty that is never far beneath the surface when he dropped Ricky Lambert's corner on to the head of the unsuspecting Radhi Jaidi and was lucky to escape.
Owusu-Abeyie shifted the balance towards Pompey with his pace, and the final scoreline was as much the result of the naivety shown by Alan Pardew's side in wildly chasing an equaliser as it was from the visitors' excellence.
Pompey, for all their other failings, have the priceless quality of pace in attack. It made Southampton sitting ducks in the closing phases as Aruna Dindane, Nadir Belhadj and Jamie O'Hara snuffed out the optimism that swept around St Mary's after Lambert's leveller.
O'Hara's fine goal capped a spirited performance by Portsmouth
If Southampton, and the demanding Liebherr regime, wanted a measure of their progress under Pardew, then they should look to the first 70 minutes as opposed to the last 20. Promotion may not come this season, but Pardew is finally pointing this fallen club in the right direction once more.
Lallana looks an exciting prospect and Lambert is a guarantee of goals at Saints' current level, and perhaps even higher.
Of course there is rich irony in Southampton fans flaunting their new-found wealth at Portsmouth when they were in administration themselves not so long ago. Perhaps Pompey might come to regard this as a sign that salvation could yet be around the corner - maybe from the mysterious potential purchasers said to be "waiting in the wings."
Grant deserves credit for the way he has pulled the playing strands of Portsmouth together, and he has clearly forged a bond with supporters who see him as a symbol of their fight for survival, judging by the mutual love-in after the final whistle.
And in man-of-the-match O'Hara, also on loan from Spurs, they have a player who typifies the spirit they will need to have running through all parts if they are to remain a going concern on and off the pitch.
So Pompey and Grant live to fight another day - how many more days remains to be seen.