Pompey plough on
It was frought, it was a bit nervy at times, but Pompey wore down a stubborn and spirited Bristol with two breakaway goals to seal a spot in the fourth round.
Tony Adams through in a couple of surprises, Kaboul returning to fitness played in midfield rather than Mvuemba, a move I think speaks volumes of Adams' trust in Arnold. Utaka made an appearance on the bench a good couple of months after last figuring, and Glen johnson returned to the right-back spot.
Pompey started the brighter of the two sides, Bristol were struggling to string two passes together and Pompey were using Traore and Nugent to get in behind. Belhadj and Johnson were doing the back up and playing more like second wingers themselves, Jonno had a couple of wayward strikes and Traore tested Basso with a strike that the keeper turned away for a corner.
Sproule was the danger man for Bristol, the Jock is a throw back to Jinky Johnson type winger, never afraid to attack his man and get in a cross. Pompey maybe target Elliott did his best to get in Adams' bad books, but his header was superbly saved by David James, the weeks rest seemed to have restored Jamos aura and authority.
Around the half hour mark and Crouch squared for Nugent to smash against a post, the ball was cleared for a corner and from the set-piece the post rattled again.
Pompey were in the ascendency though and from a Bristol corner, Crouch did his Harlem globetrotter act and released Belhadj who in turn floated out a lovely ball to Traore who had drifted to the right, our loanee burst forward and squared for Crouch who had run 80yds to slide in the opener. I did wonder if this was a turning point for Pompey, our luck has been retched lately and on most other occasions Crouch would have been penalised for his spin bowling.
Pompey had the breakthrough and made it through to half-time with out too many scares, although James made another reaction save in an offside Bristol attack, he was really looking like himself again.
Second half and Bristol really came out the blocks firing, Nicky Maynard was a livewire, and Glen Johnson pulled off a great tackle to deny a shooting opportunity. McCombe headed the resulting corner wide and Pompey were under the cosh. In another quick fire counter, Kaboul flicked on superbly for Crouch, but he could only flick wide when he should really of buried it. On about 70mins and Nugent gingerly limped off, his hamstring looked to have tightened and hopefull this was nothing but a precaution as he really did look lively tonight. This threw Utaka into the frame, he first back-heeled against his standing leg and then under-hit a back pass, welcome back John!
Pompey were struggling to clear their lines, Belhadj was caught juggling and Johnson all 3ft 2' of him had a free header at goal.
Pompey still countered though, Belhadj striking well and the keeper held on really well to deny Crouch a tap in.
Bristol were throwing everyone forward now, but Belhadj exploded away again and squared for Kranjcar to roll into the net, Game over? Well Pompey never do it easy, Distin was caught out being a bit too clever, the ball broke to Maynard and he in turn spirited away from Sol and was brought down in heap, Penalty. Maynard himself took it, but James was in no mood to concede now, and his perfect night was complete as he palmed the dead ball away.
Kanu was on and should of scored with his first touch, the ball was squared to the cup specialist but he only fired wide when he should of scored, to be fair 3 goals would of been harsh on Bristol, but Pompey were looking reminiscent of about 13 months ago, soaking up wave after wave of attacks and then breaking with speed and hitting on the counter, this game really reminded me of our win at Villa park last season, we may not of been the possesion team, but we were the team with the result, roll on Swansea.