Pompey 3-0 Leeds
Tues 28-08-07, 7.45pm
League One - how strange does that sound - side Leeds came to Fratton on Tuesday night looking to cause an upset in the 2nd round of the league cup as Pompey's quest for cup glory for another year began.
David James, Lauren, Sol Campbell, Hermann Hreidarsson, Gary O'Neil, Sean Davis, Sulley Muntari, Matty Taylor and Kanu were all rested - James, Hreidarsson, O'Neil and Taylor to the bench, the rest completely. Only Sylvain Distin and John Utaka were retained from the starting line up from Chelsea at the weekend.
Even so it was still a strong side with Jamie Ashdown, Martin Cranie, Noe Pamarot, Djimi Traore, Richard Hughes, David Nugent and Benjani, along with Pedro Mendes and Niko Kranjcar - for his first performance of the season - who both returned from injury, all came in.
A small crowd of only 8502 may not have seen a completely convincing win, but they saw a win nonetheless. Two goals from Noe Pamarot, one in either half and a first competitive goal late on from David Nugent saw us to a 3-0 win, even if it did flatter us.
After an interesting enough opening 10 minutes or so, which saw both sides have good possession, the first serious attempt on goal saw Leeds keeper Casper Ankergren rooted as Niko Kranjcar cut inside then struck a drive that hit the bar, then hit the post before coming out to safety - just.
Efforts from Richard Hughes and John Utaka went close before Tresor Kandol get in beyond Martin Cranie and Noe Pamarot before forcing a fine save out of Jamie Ashdown, who turned the shot away for a corner.
There was some more nice football being paid in what started as a nice open game, with Utaka forcing a save from their keeper, but Leeds were a danger - and started taking control - one such moment when Kandol shot just over with a vicious shot as the defence backed off him giving him space.
Around 25 minutes in, with Pompey seemingly switching off as a rhythm could not be found David Prutton should have put Leeds ahead. Jonathan Douglas delivered a superb ball and with a virtual open goal Prutton completely missed the ball as we escaped.
Had he been anticipating a little more Benjani might have put Pompey ahead. Pedro Mendes found out Nugent who drove a cross shot across the goal, that could have been turned in had Benjani been a little more alert, although in fairness to him it all happened quickly.
Nugent should have opened the scoring soon after that, but Ankergren closed him down to deny him his first Pompey goal.
We had started the match very brightly, but then lost our way for a long period of the half, but with half time approaching, after a needlessly conceded corner Mendes drove in a low shot that Noe Pamarot diverted past a wrong footed Ankergren to put us 1-0 up in the 42nd minute.
Harry Redknapp would have had plenty of words with the players at half time, as the 1st half was simply not good enough.
Early in the 2nd half Leeds' half time sub Jermaine Beckford got onto the end of a ball over the top but Ashdown reacted well to deny him, but he would feel he should have maybe done better. Soon after this, Leeds were calling for penalty, but the referee was having none of it.
A pretty lacklustre 2nd half, with some nice bits of play saw Redknapp make his first change on 74 minutes as the hardworking, as ever, Benjani came off and Gary O'Neil came on.
As Mendes tried his luck again, with no deflection this time Ankergren turned it over for a corner. Pompey then enjoyed a spell of possession as the made Leeds have to work hard.
Like in the 1st half, a needlessly conceded corner from Ankergren saw O'Neil send in a fine corner that was headed home by Pamarot for his second of the game to make it 2-0 on 81 minutes, this immediately brought another change as Arnold Mvuemba came on for Richard Hughes.
The moment that we had all been waiting for came on 85 minutes when Nugent finished superbly after Mvuemba started a move in the midfield, finding Utaka who sent the ball into Nugent who finished a difficult chance really well. This also brought a change as Sylvain Distin came off for Hermann Hreidarsson.
Late on Nugent looked for another goal, but his lob over the on rushing Ankergren went over the bar to safety, but we had done enough.
For long periods of this match we were not particularly good, so to win 3-0 did flatter us, but it is swings and roundabouts, we were fantastic against Chelsea and lost.
The main thing was that we won tonight and we did, so to have won and rested so many players that will return for the Arsenal game makes it a job well done, although we will have to improve as we go on if we have genuine ambitions to win this cup - which we could.
Players that have not played much also got some game time, so that is a bonus. David Nugent opening his account was fantastic.
A low attendance, was made even worse when so many fans were left waiting outside, as they could not get in!
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Pompey 3 - Noe Pamarot 42 & 81, David Nugent 85
Sylvain Distin (Hermann Hreidarsson 86)
Richard Hughes (Arnold Mvuemba 82)
Benjani (Gary O'Neil 74)
Substitutes Not Used
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