Pompey Through To Round 4
Saturday 06-01-07, 3pm
Pompey's FA Cup campaign for this season began with Wigan the visitors to Fratton in Round Three. With a replay looking likely and injury time winner saw us through 2-1.
So much for my Svetoslav Todorov theory! It was thought that Harry Redknapp would rest players for this tie thus Todorov getting a chance but this was far from the case; in fact it was Wigan who were the team to do this.
With the exception of one change it was basically the side that had played the majority of the game against Spurs on New Years Day. The only change of choice saw Andrew Cole came in for Kanu while Niko Kranjcar having come on for the injured Noe Pamarot early against Spurs retained his place with Pamarot out injured following an impressive display.
After a goalless first half Pompey took the lead through Andrew Cole only for Lee McCulloch to equalise with time running out. As a replay was looking more and more likely substitute Kanu claimed an injury time winner to send us deservedly into Round Four.
In front of a relatively small rain soaked Fratton Park crowd a Matty Taylor 30-yard free kick sent wide of Mike Pollitt's goal proved to be the first effort on goal from either side. Niko Kranjcar looking to make the most of his start then sent a header narrowly wide from a Glen Johnson cross.
Andrew Cole, starting the match in place of Kanu as to rest the big Nigerian was causing Wigan problems and but for a fine Pollitt save to tip the ball around the post he would have opened the scoring.
Another Kranjcar effort, this time a free kick from the edge of the area had to again be dealt with by Pollitt then the small travelling Wigan contingent saw their charges have an effort on David James' goal midway through the first half. Emile Heskey's header never troubled James.
Cole and Kranjcar again had efforts for Pompey before half time, Cole shooting wide; Kranjcar drawing a save of sorts from Pollitt, although it was almost Wigan who went in at half time one up. The ball broke lose in the Pompey box with Heskey ready to pounce but Sol Campbell cleared.
Harry Redknapp introduced top goalscorer Kanu at half time with Benjani the man to make way.
Pedro Mendes shot the first effort of the second half wide, but Wigan did come more into the game, Andreas Johansson himself them also shooting wide with Denny Landzaat having an effort deflected wide for a corner.
The deadlock was broken thanks to Cole shortly after the hour. Sean Davis' cross found Cole who wrong footed Emmerson Boyce before slamming past Pollitt and into the Wigan net to give Pompey the lead.
Paul Jewell reacted by making an attacking change before the highly rated Leighton Baines, a man who could prove to be a rival for Taylor in a left sided role for England down the line was then denied by the first meaningful save James had to make.
Davis, still in search of that first illusive goal this season so he can finally get his hair cut sent a curling effort towards Pollitt who saved, David Cotterill then did likewise at the other end, James again more than equal to the task.
An effort was then cleared off the line to deny Pompey a two goal lead before Kranjcar's last evolvement was to volley wide. He was then replaced by David Thompson.
The Wigan fans were then rewarded for their journey with what they thought would be the equaliser to force a replay at the JJB. Gary Teale pulled the ball back to Lee McCulloch who shot home from the edge of the area with only eight minutes to play, minutes later Cotterill then shot wide.
Kanu had a shot saved before he headed home the winner in the second minute of injury time. Johnson cross was met by the Nigerian International to head home from six yards out to confirm Pompey's place in Round Four.
Harry Redknapp had said prior to this match that the FA Cup would prove a welcome distraction from the Premiership and he hoped to emulate our 1992 Cup run which ended in the heartbreak of a Semi-Final replay penalty shoot out defeat to Liverpool. From the team he put out it proved he meant business.
A replay was the last thing we would have wanted and thankfully we got what we deserved with our late winner. We can now look forward to the Fourth Round on Monday safe in the knowledge that the chance to claim some Silverware this season is still possible with another possible route into Europe still there for the taking.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Pompey 2 - Andrew Cole 64, Kanu 90
Wigan 1 - Lee McCulloch 83
Niko Kranjcar (David Thompson 79)
Benjani (Kanu 45)
Substitutes Not Used