Pompey Splash Out!
St James Park
Wednesday 25-10-06, 7:45pm
Pompey made the long trip to Newcastle for this evening Carling Cup third round tie and in near farcical conditions crashed out 3-0.
Sol Campbell, Pedro Mendes, Gary O'Neil and Benjani were rested but it was still a strong Pompey side, but clearly not strong enough that saw one route to Europe cut off for another season.
Two quick goals in the opening ten minutes of the second half from Giuseppe Rossi and Nolberto Solano all but condemned Pompey's fate, with the match being wrapped up in the last minute with Solano's second and Newcastle's third.
In appalling conditions with the rain adding to the already waterlogged pitch, every time the ball was kicked masses of water left the surface with the ball often sticking when players were expecting otherwise the battle commenced.
In the early exchanges Pompey were the first team to threaten either goal. With the wet conditions making goalkeeping even more difficult Matty Taylor's 35-yarder almost caught out Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper but he managed to tip the ball around the post for a corner.
Then with the match less than ten minutes old another long range effort from the edge of the area had to be well saved for Harper. This effort came from David Thompson, one of the midfielders coming into the team, the other Sean Davis with Gary O`Neil and Pedro Mendes rested.
Titus Bramble, the Newcastle defender so often ridiculed for his calamitous errors did well to deny Andrew Cole as he threatened to test Harper again. Cole started this match upfront with Lomana LuaLua in a new strike partnership; Kanu rested taking a place on the bench, Benjani completely.
Following an uncharacteristic mistake from Linvoy Primus, made captain for this match former Pompey target Obafemi Martins was away but his chipped effort narrowly went over the top of David James' goal for the safety of a goal kick.
Then came the moment that Pompey would eventually live to regret, having beaten Newcastle's offside trap LuaLua's poor touch when away prevented him being able to get an effort on goal. You couldn't help but think this will come back to haunt us and it did...
James Milner, starting to get a chance again at St James having looked certain for a Newcastle exit in the summer before an eleventh hour change of heart by the Newcastle hierarchy halted a move to Villa tested James from the edge of the area with James saving well. Martins was then denied before half time also.
The half drew to a close with Nicky Butt, another man thought surplus to requirements now back in the Newcastle picture, putting his 20-yard effort wide of James' goal.
Both sides made half time changes, Harry Redknapp removing Thompson brining on Ognjen Koroman in his place with his Newcastle counterpart Glenn Roeder deciding Martins had run his course brining on Damien Duff.
With the second half barely underway Charles N'Zogbia had the first effort, but his 25-yard effort again failed to trouble James.
After failing to clear the ball with a Newcastle player throwing himself to the ground in search of a penalty the ball found its way to the on loan Manchester United forward Giuseppe Rossi, making his first start for Newcastle. The Italian under-21 International showed his class as he created an opening for himself before firing home.
Having barely had a chance to recompose ourselves we found the game effectively ended with only eight minutes of the second half played. For the second time in four minutes we had conceded, and as with Chelsea on Saturday one goal quickly followed another. Half time sub Duff made his mark with his cross finding the onrushing Nolberto Solano's head and he powered home, sliding into the advertising hoardings after doing so.
With Newcastle on top in the difficult conditions Rossi almost helped himself to his second and Newcastle's third shortly after, but James saved well. Newcastle quickly followed up with another Solano effort. This time the Peruvians right footed curling effort from the edge of the goal just missed the target.
As time ran out with us failing to really create anything Kieron Dyer was brought into the action replacing Butt for his first appearance in six-months, with James shortly after again having to save. This time from Duff's corner Milner's header needed blocking. With Dyer himself almost marking his return with a goal but following his run he dragged across goal from close range.
Redknapp felt the need for another change. With twenty-eight minutes to play we were given our first look of Roudolphe Douala. The Cameroonian winger came on to replace Niko Kranjcar, with Richard Hughes soon after given a rare outing as Redknapp made his third and final change removing Sean Davis.
Time was ebbing away and but for another smart David James parry from the lively Rossi we would have been killed off for sure.
With just over five minutes to play it looked as though we were back in the game. LuaLua had the ball in the back of the Newcastle net with a rare threat to the Newcastle United goal in the second or any part of the match in all truth but this was ruled out. The former Newcastle forward was adjudged to be offside; the brief hope of a Pompey revival was quashed.
As we went in search of a late consolation in the hope of maybe getting another quick goal to force extra time we were caught out. Milner's cross eventually found its way to Solano after being booted into the face of Primus and Solano stabbed home from six-yards to give Newcastle the 3-0 win and relieve some of the pressure on Glen Roeder and leave us to "concentrate" on the League and the FA Cup for another year.
I doubt many people will be too disappointed to see Pompey lose this game but I am! Realistically we are not going to finish in the top six, although you never know and having won nothing major in over 50-years I felt this represented a great chance with so many not always taking this competition seriously. Oh well it wasn`t to be...
Next up for Pompey are Reading as Premiership action returns to Fratton Park on Saturday. We will be aiming to bounce back from successive defeats following Saturday's 2-1 loss at Stamford Bridge to Chelsea. Successive defeats from Bolton and Spurs saw us recover to beat West Ham so hopefully we can do the same against Reading, but this derby will be a tough affair.
Newcastle 3 - Giuseppe Rossi 49, Nolberto Solano 53 & 90
Linvoy Primus (c)
David Thompson (Ognjen Koroman 45)
Sean Davis (Richard Hughes 73)
Niko Kranjcar (Rodolph Douala 63)
Substitutes Not Used