Sunday, 31 January 2016

Cherries' subs edge past spirited Pompey in Cup 1-2

Match Report
FA Cup
Portsmouth 1 v 2 AFCB
30 January 2016
Attendance 18,901
The FA Cup reaches the Fourth Round.
The cold win blowing through Fratton Park was not going to spoil this spectacle. While Pompey were pumped up for another upset against higher league opposition, they perhaps just ran out of steam when they had taken a first half lead through a super passing move that saw Gary Roberts take his time to pick his spot past the last defender and a sprawling Adam Federici. There was always a probability that the Cherries would improve though and sure enough a double substitution that brought Matt Ritchie and Marc Pugh into play turn the game on its head with a 12 minute spell and headed goals from Josh King and Marc Pugh. It was clinical, it was maybe getting out of jail, but it was certainly Premier League quality that sunk Pompey in the end.
The fans start arriving at Fratton Park. 
A Pompey mascot greets the crowds.
Tommy Elphick gets ready for the choice of ends.
The team line ups for AFCB are never easy to work out in these cup games with only Adam Smith keeping his place from the last league game. The big news was the return of captain Tommy Elphick and a chance to see new signing Juan Iturbe as well as the return of Josh King, while Baily Cargill continued his apprenticeship in the Cup.

Interview with Pompey fan Deano.

Pompey had Ryan Foulton make his second appearance in goal and put out a strong team with Adam McGurk, Ben Close and Christian Burgess making starts. There was a fitting minute of applause for the passing of former Pompey player Ray Pointer, a former England international player, before the game kicked off.

Can Pompey win it?

AFCB players wait for Baily Cargill out of shot.
Pompey in there huddle.
More match photos are on Match Day Gallery.

First Half
It was going to be a big day for Sylvain Distin making his return to a former club and he was not going to be given an easy ride. As early as the second minute he was having to put in a last ditch tackle on Marc McNaulty as Pompey came forward with real purpose. McNaulty was certainly making AFCB's back four look nervous and his shot on six minutes from the edge of the box only went a whisker wide of Federici's right post even if a flag for offside did go up belatedly.

Pompey had made the better start. AFCB looked to the fresh face of Juan Iturbe to take their game forward. He took charge of an early free kick after Adam Smith had draw the first of many fouls and delivered a good flighted ball into the box as he was to on several other occasions.

Meanwhile, McNaulty dropped his shoulder and span away from Sylvain Distin even though he could not find a finish as Smith returned to cover.

Pompey were looking in charge though as the quarter hour approached and Adam McGurk had a shot blocked before Adam Smith conceded a corner. Josh King then made the clearance with Pompey fans claiming handball - I think it was ball to hand but would not have been surprised if it had been given.

Portsmouth were winning the second ball and Iturbe found himself getting caught in his own half. The ball fell to McNaulty again and he shot from the edge of the box, a low shot that had Federici diving to his right at full stretch to glove around the post.

Not everything was going Pompey's way though and Burgess received a yellow card for a foul on Glenn Murray. From the free kick that O'Kane took, Murray rose well and headed an effort just wide – the best Bournemouth chance up to that point!

Elphick and Cargill were playing well at the back and were starting to read the Pompey runs a little better. Cargill stood firm when Roberts had broken through the midfield trap and Baily plucked the ball from him like it was child's play.

With 27 minutes gone AFCB had a corner after a run from Josh King. The ball was crossed deep where King tried to hook it back and as Pompey cleared, the ball landed at the feet of Juan Iturbe on the edge of the box. He just took a simple touch and fired at goal, with his left foot, and Foulton got a slight touch on it, so the ball incredibly rebounded off the post when it so nearly might have given the Cherries the lead.

Smith was having a real battle with Kyle Bennett and Enda Stevens and he was not winning that many scrambles with them. A couple of more free kicks taken by Iturbe upped the pressure on Pompey but Foulton was not being made to work in the Portsmouth goal.

Bournemouth were doing most of the chasing now with Pompey retaining possession well but not really going anywhere it seemed. Then after a bout of keep ball that ended back with Foulton they came forward again with a pass from Bennett to McNaulty that opened up the right side, and his cross on the sped across the six yard box to Roberts who adjusted his footing before firing Pompey 1-0 up! Portsmouth had probably been the better side in the first half and they deserved their slender lead.
AFCB subs during half time.
Second half kick off
Second Half
AFCB knew that had to do things much better in the second half. There was no immediate indication that things would come right though with Murray and Cargill misunderstanding their movement early on and losing possession. Macca was chasing in midfield while O'Kane was not always picking a pass well.

Distin at least was winning headers and making it harder for Pompey to extend their lead. O'Kane was being stringer in the challenge now and while AFCB made progress with MacDonald and King on the left the referee got in the way and Pompey were off on another break.

A Pompey free kick taken by Davies came off the wall and bounced in front of Federici but he clung on well enough. Grabban made a super layoff around the centre spot for MacDonald but Bennett was in and he raced towards goal, releasing Roberts who crossed right across the goal but there was nobody there to finish it off.

With an hour gone and Pompey still one goal to the good there was a lot of work to do for Eddie Howe and his team. The passing just wasn't good enough and far too many mistakes were being made. So Ritchie and Pugh came on for Murray and Iturbe on 62 minutes, while Gareth Evans and Adam Webster replaced Roberts and Burgess.

The improvement for Bournemouth was almost instantaneous. Ritchie's first couple of touches just raised the standard of what had gone before. The players picked up and started running at Pompey more directly. King pt in a cross on the six yard box that Webster had to clear hastily. Pugh then made a cross that King headed wide.

Another Bournemouth move on the right ended with Grabban blazing over! It was like something had switched the light on in the AFCB players and they just needed to find the finish. That came soon enough. Pugh was fouled by Davies, right near the corner post, and won a free kick. Eunan O'Kane took the kick and he picked out Josh King who made an early run to the near post and his glancing header beat Foulton and equalled the scores 1-1.

There were 19 minutes left and now it was going to be a question of who wanted it most. MacDonald gave away a foul dead centre in front of goal and 25 yards out. Bennett was to take it and clipped a shot over the wall, but Federici caught it and held it just under the bar. Pompey were still giving it everything with Bennet having a wide shot and McGurk shooting wildly into the stands. Moments later McGurk was subbed by Ben Tollitt, while Tommy Elphick made way for Simon Francis.

With 10 minutes to go it was Bournemouth that had started to play the more controlled passing football. A cross from Ritchie on the right was met by a heel flick from King, which left Grabban in with a sight of goal but he took long moving the ball from his left to his right foot and Clarke and Webster closed him down and forced the ball out for a corner.

Moments later from the corner, it was Pugh who was free on the left and in the box he sent in a shot that Foulton saved with his legs. It was all AFCB as they pressed for the winner. Pompey just couldn't hold out. Grabban sent in another thumping shot on the turn that Foulton could only knock wide and into the path of an on running Pugh, who headed back across goal and even with Webster on the line the ball ended up in the back of the net - 1-2!

With five minutes to go AFCB just tried to be solid and with Distin at the back they achieved that and the four minutes of added time passed with the Cherries holding the ball down in Pompey's last third of the pitch.
Josh King and Eunan O'Kane applaud the supporters.
Matt Ritchie, Macca and Eddie Howe.
A difficult game, as AFCB knew it would be. Pompey played well above their League Two status and if they had built on their first half lead they may have won this game. One-nil was never enough though with the quality that Eddie Howe could draw upon from the bench. In top gear the Cherries can be remarkable but a higher gear is something that perhaps Pompey still have to add to their game. That said, Eddie Howe will be well pleased to come through this tie as Portsmouth were the better team for much of the game and some of AFCB's players who needed the game showed exactly why they have not been the ones grabbing the shirt in the last couple of months. More sharpness from games like this can only help them though. Getting through to the fifth round though is something that is rare in AFCB history so well done to all the players on this achievement. Good luck to Pompey in your promotion attempt this season.

Federici, Smith, Elphick (Francis 76), Distin, Cargill, Iturbe (Pugh 62), O'Kane, MacDonald, King, Grabban, Murray (Ritchie 62)

Allsop, Simpson, Ritchie, Pugh, Butcher, Francis, Wakefield

AFCB Ratings
Federici 7, Smith 7, Elphick 6, Distin 7, Cargill 6, Iturbe 7, O'Kane 5, MacDonald 5, King 7,
Grabban 6, Murray 5

Fulton, Davies, Burgess (Webster 62), Webster, Clarke, Stevens, Close, Doyle, McGurk
(Tollitt 77), Roberts (Evans 62), Evans, Bennett, McNulty

Pompey Subs
Jones, Webster, Naismith, Barton, Tollitt, Chaplin, Evans

Ref Watch: Mike Dean - let too many challenges go unpunished. A possible missed penalty against Josh King in the first half - some would have given it - glad he didn't. 5/10

Two People predicted the correct score of 1-2 to the Cherries in our score prediction game. We had to draw the names of Vikki Barringer @VikkiMinxymoo Leighton Reeks @fifaaddict2012 out of the hat and the winner was Vikki - so well done to her - an AFCB wristband is on its way to you!

Transfer Watch
The Daily Echo has reported that AFCB are trying to sign back Rhoys Wiggins from Sheffield Wednesday as cove for Charlie Daniels. I know it's staggering news!

1 comment:

  1. Great summary.
    I thought the Pompey goal which was 48 passes BTW, was astonishing for a lge 2 team.
    Can I see them coming through the leagues?
    A resounding yes!
    So much more likeable than their saints neighbours