Danny Ings after scoring the first goal, was Man of the Match by a considerable margin
Intro and Team News
IBO Reporter - Spot51
|Following Friday’s weird defeat by Bournemouth, in which we played some great stuff in places yet still handed them a comfortable first win at SMS, our focus changed to THE South Coast “derby” at Fratton Park. It was our first match with Pompey since we passed (travelling in opposite directions) in the Championship.
I worked in Portsmouth for over 35 years and used to know a bit about all things Pompey but, since retirement, have lost track of what goes on there. I still retain a number of friends who are Pompey fans and last weekend contacted two ST holders for the latest gossip. The consensus was they’ve been “shocking” this season with Kenny Jackett unable to decide on his best side and, according to one, having “lost the dressing room!”
They are happy with their Scots keeper but less so with the back four. Captain Naylor is a good ball winner but not a great passer whilst local nipper Close can be decent but sometimes “goes missing”. Further forward Cannon and Harness were liked but neither were likely to be fit for Saints. Irish winger, Curtis, is good but has a short fuse and most likely to be sent off. The players most likely to upset their visitors were therefore likely to be veteran Brett Pitman and recent signing Marquis who has a good pedigree but has yet to settle in.
For Saints, it seems Djenepo could be out for a while but Redmond was available. After the ridiculous changes to our back line last Friday, it was good to see Ralph opting to play a back four of Cédric, Bednarek, Maya & Bertie – round pegs in round holes FFS! A midfield 3 of JWP, Højbjerg and Romeu (who was brilliant against AFCB) sat behind Ings, Adams and Obafemi. Being a cup game, McCarthy was in goal. Saints had a powerful bench so, it seemed, no punches were to be pulled.
Kevin Friend was the ref for the night and, it being an EFL competition, he was unsupported by VAR.
The match was screened by Sky. Both managers appeared well up for the contest on a truly vile, rainy night in Fratton. The studio pundit was Matt Taylor, former Pompey star and a smashing bloke who devoted both time and money to the Stubbington Ark while living in Hampshire. The gantry pundit was Higgy who does lots of work for Sky and told tales of previous visits to “Hell” in a Saints shirt. This was only the 39th fixture between the sides and Higgy played in 5 of them.
Cédric, scorer of the third goal and Nathan Redmond, scorer of the fourth goal
IBO Reporter : Spot51
|At kick-off it was still pissing down and as the night wore on the pitch began collecting small areas of standing water. Early play was mistake ridden and it would have been difficult for a neutral to identify which side was 2 leagues below the other. The most notable thing in the opening minutes was Heidi leaving Drew’s bed and joining Rosie & I on the sofa.
Then on 9m, Williams found Marquis whose snap-shot clipped McCarthy’s post as it flew wide. Pompey then won the first of several corners but caused no additional scares. But now it was all Portsmouth and our defensive set-up began to be tested. Romeu’s foul on Naylor gave them another chance and when the resulting free kick dropped to Pitman his driven volley needed touching over by McC.
Pompey wasted this corner too, but driven on by the baying mob they continued to force Saints back. It was an uncomfortable watch on TV. Our away support must have been very glad there is now a roof over the Milton End to protect them for the awful weather. On the park we were making no headway so it was good that Pompey were not converting their opportunities.
On 20m Pompey won yet another corner and one of their big blokes headed it down. McCarthy parried it but the ball drifted perilously close to his goal line. Fortunately Bednarek was alert and stabbed the ball away from Marquis so that McC could smother it.
Saints then mounted their first serious attack with Obafemi setting up Ings. The local lad struck a decent shot that MacG blocked away. Ward-Prowse recovered the ball and played it back to Ings. A touch to his right created another chance but this time his shot went low into the bottom corner. 21m gone – 0-1.
Saints almost got another soon after as Ings broke through again. This time his shot cannoned back off the keeper but fell nicely for the advancing Højbjerg. His low drive was on target but a timely block by Hawkins kept Pompey in the game.
The game took on a very different feel with Saints suddenly getting time to knock the ball around at the back. Pompey sat deeper, only reacting when we crossed the half-way line, but with us getting forward in numbers now it became a much more open match.
On 27m Bertie got down the left side and delivered a fantastic cross, just begging to be touched home. None of our forwards were inside the box! Pearls before swine, what? Pompey then reminded us they were still in the game, breaking upfield to win another corner. This time our defence struggled to clear the ball which Pompey kept recycling. Eventually it dropped to Burgess at the back post but the big man turned and dragged his shot wide.
Mr Friend was not keen to issue his first yellow card and one ugly tackle on Ings ought to have broken his duck. On 34m Ings played in Cédric but Pompey’s back line did well to win and clear the ball. Then JWP had a pot from range but MacG blocked it away. Saints recovered the ball and turned it back into the box. JWP had a good scoring chance until body checked by Che Adams - too desperate to open his account – causing great mirth in the Fratton End!
Obafemi won a corner for Saints but Pompey cleared JWP’s cross. On 41m Pompey got forward and Romeu fouled Marquis. Saints cleared the resulting FK for a corner. Bednarek headed this away but Pompey recovered the ball, playing in Marquis whose shot rose beyond the bar.
A minute later Saints extended their lead. In the 44th minute they broke upfield with a slick passing move. Obafemi collected the ball to the right of Pompey’s box and played the ball between their back line. Ings timed his run from the other side to perfection, arriving just ahead of the advancing keeper and lifting the ball over him into the net. 0-2 and it was looking a long way back for the Blues now.
In 2 added minutes, Saints just ran the clock down. Even when Bertie was fouled they were happy to keep the ball at the back until the whistle allowed both teams to escape the pissing rain. HT 0-2.
It was still persisting as the second half began with both sides now playing towards their own support. Ings and Adams created an early opening for Romeu but the Spaniard’s finish was woeful. Pompey had shaken off the effects of going two down and were seeking to reduce the arrears. Saints, however, were creating the best chances and had Adams not wanted too much time on 50m he might have killed the game. Instead, Pompey gladly whisked the ball away and the chance was gone.
Haunstrup finally achieved the first yellow on 53m for a foul on JWP. He was joined by Pitman a minute later as the forward tripped Obafemi as he carried the ball away from Saints goal. On 57m Pompey won another corner (off Maya) but there was argy-bargy going on as the cross came in and the Ref gave Saints the free kick. Soon after Hawkins went down and was unable to continue. He was replaced by Paul Downing on 59m.
Soon after, the Pompey trainers were back on attending to Haunstrup but this defender was able to rejoin the game after treatment. Marquis then appeared to elbow Maya Yoshida and Japan’s captain was incredulous that the Ref took no action. In the next few minutes, Maya took his own retribution, twice clattering Marquis and earning a yellow card – for Bertie! The look on Ryan’s face as Mr Friend held up the card was priceless!
On 69m Downing blocked off Ings giving Saints a free kick. Bertie overhit his forward pass which rolled harmlessly into touch. By now, Redmond was increasing the intensity of his warm-up so it was no surprise when he replaced Obafemi on 72m.
Pompey immediately went up the other end and created a chance for Curtis which was blocked for a corner by Cédric. The corner was cleared and Saints then tried to crush Pompey’s spirit by keeping possession, making them chase the ball. Redmond suddenly sent Cédric beyond the Pompey defence but he also saw his inviting cross clear the penalty area with only blue shirts in it.
On 77m things got a whole lot better for Cédric, drifting infield as Saints made progress down the left. When Ings went past his man the Portuguese raced into the box and met Danny’s cut-back, driving it firmly home for Saints’ third: 0-3.
Pompey replaced Williams with Evans. His first action was a body check on Ings that earned a talking to by the Ref. Moving into the final 10m, both sides made further changes: McCrorie replaced Close and Shane Long for Ings.
Redmond set up Long on 86m but the Irishman’s shot was safely gathered by MacG. He was given no chance with Saints’ next effort in the dying minutes. Redmond collected the ball in his own half and drove forward. He then played a long pass behind Pompey’s back line. The defenders stepped up seeking to catch Long offside but Redmond continued his run and collected the ball. With blue shirts piling back on all sides, Redmond then cut inside and hit a beautiful right-footed shot just inside the near post: 0-4 and that was that.
The 4 added minutes saw Saints still trying to pass Pompey to death and, just before the final whistle, Pompey broke down their left. Højbjerg sprinted across the park to deliver a crunching sliding tackle. As he jumped up, punching the air, Mr Friend sounded the final whistle.
Most Pompey fans were happy to head home, out of the pissing rain. Our lot were, for once, happy to be held behind by Old Bill and enjoyed the celebrations of our players and staff in front of the Milton End goal.
Man of the Match
No doubt about it – Winchester born Saints fan Danny Ings had a terrific night. Well done Sir!