Date:Wednesday August 25 2010
Fratton Park's gates opened for the second time this season to host a League Cup game against Crystal Palace, and after conceding a last minute equaliser last time they played here Pompey were out to make amends. There were mixed emotions of enthusiasm for the match, as some saw the League Cup as more of a distraction, and with such a threadbare squad, another injury was the last thing we needed. On the other hand, a favourable draw in the next round could bring in some much needed pennies.
After their dismal showing at Deepdale on Saturday Pompey named one change, with Ritchie coming in to replace Ciftci. Palace on the other hand handed a debut to the Surinamese ex-pat Edgar Davids who joined Palace on a pay-as-you-play basis last week. The former Ac Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Ajax and Spurs player played in the left-back position.
Rumour before the game was that Portsmouth captain Marc Wilson could be featuring in his last game in a Pompey shirt, time will tell if and where he's heading, with Stoke now joining West Brom and several other clubs in a bidding war. If push came to shove could we really turn down an offer in excess of £4m?
Marc Wilson led out his side to a half-full Fratton Park with the atmosphere noticeably a notch or two below it's usual standard and business soon commenced. Portsmouth made a slow start to the match, under plenty of pressure in the opening exchanges, having to defend from numerous corners. Jamie Ashdown picked up from where he left off on Saturday, making a string of decent stops. Palace's dangerman on the night was without a doubt Wilfred Zaha, whose pace gave the Pompey defence nightmares.
Portsmouth did have one chance before the break when Carl Dickinson played a fantastic long ball, but Matt Ritchie lifted his shot over the bar. 0-0 is how the first half ended, with Palace playing the better football.
The second half saw a typically tense start, but that tension soon turned to elation for the Blues as David Nugent went on a mazy run, and just when he seemed to lose control of the ball, he stuck out a right foot and poked the ball past Julian Speroni to give Pompey the lead and end his personal goal drought. Within 10 minutes of scoring however, Nugent's night came to an end after he was unable to run off a knock he received just after scoring. Fans will be hoping that it's just a precautionary measure.
After the goal it was one way traffic, with every Pompey player wanting to get on the scoresheet. Brown, Ritchie, Smith and Dickinson all having attempts on goal, but Speroni was keeping them at bay. Pompey also piled on the pressure from set pieces, but to no avail.
Palace were running out of ideas badly and there looked like there was no way back into the game for them. Step forward Ibrahima Sonko. He proved his lack of a left foot on Saturday when he failed to clear for the Preston goal, and tonight the Senegalese defender went one better, slicing the ball past the helpless Jamie Ashdown and into the net with just 10 minutes left on the clock.
The momentum swung back in Pompey's way just minutes later however when the promising Zaha saw a straight red card after an altercation with Carl Dickinson. Pompey pushed for a late winner but Palace held on a forced the game into extra time. Somewhere in the middle of it all Edgar Davids got substituted, although nobody really noticed he was playing.
The man advantage made extra-time much more open, as Pompey were the team on top, but Palace continued to push forward themselves which made it an excitingly tense 30 minutes. Marc Wilson tested Speroni a number of times, and Ciftci also came close on more than one occasion. Palace substitute Jonathan Obika looked like their biggest threat, but failed to hit the target when given the chance. The final opportunity of the match came in the 119th minute and fell to Richard Hughes, but his attempt from range was wide of the right hand post.
And so to penalties it went, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it may be the first time Fratton Park has hosted a competitive penalty shoot out? Answers on a postcard (or in the comments box below).
Jamie Ashdown got Portsmouth of to a flier by saving from Djilali, which allowed Brown to fire Pompey into the lead. Cadogan and Wilson both scored before Obika skied his penalty into the Fratton End. Things would have been comfortable had Tommy Smith not been denied by Speroni, and after McCarthy and Pack both scored, an Ashdown save would have to won it.
But Garvan kept his composure to put all the pressure on Ciftci, who sent the keeper the wrong way but saw his penalty come back off the post. Into sudden-death we went and after Ashdown saved once again from Clyne, it was up to Dickinson to win it. He saw his penalty saved but was given a second chance when Speroni was adjudged to have strayed off his line, but it wasn't to be as Speroni, who was on the flop, managed to deny Dickinson with his legs. Adam Barrett was next to taste the wrath of Ashdown which gave Richard Hughes the chance to send Portsmouth through to the 3rd round. And he duly obliged.
After a tense shoot-out the Portsmouth fans basked in the rare feeling of joy as they must now await to see who their opponents will be in the next round. As for the performance, much better in the second half, especially after the goal went in and a real boost for Cardiff on Saturday, although I have question marks if we can cope with Bellamy.
Portsmouth 1-1 Crystal Palace
Nugent (57) - Sonko og (81)
1. Djilali (SAVED) - Brown (SCORED)
2. Cadogan (SCORED) - Wilson (SCORED)
3. Obika (MISSED) - Smith (SAVED)
4. McCarthy (SCORED) - Pack (SCORED)
5. Garvan (SCORED) - Ciftci (MISSED)
6. Clyne (SAVED) - Dickinson (SAVED (x2!))
7. Barrett (SAVED) - Hughes (SCORED)
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Date:Wednesday August 25 2010
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