Carnage In Cambridge

Last updated : 22 February 2015 By Jim Bonner

The 1,433 Portsmouth fans who made the journey to the Abbey Stadium yesterday will never forget what they witnessed as rampant Pompey hit Cambridge United for six on their own turf.

The rout began after just two minutes as Jed Wallace cut inside the Cambridge defence from the left and struck the ball into the bottom far corner to give his side the lead.

That marked the start of a half almost completely dominated by Pompey who looked comfortable in possession, won almost every 50/50 ball in midfield and tested U's goalkeeper Chris Dunn with Matt Tubbs also bending a free kick just wide.

However, all that hard work looked to have been undone when a sloppy backpass from Joe Devera was seized upon by Robbie Simpson and he fed the ball to Jordan Slew despite James Dunne's best efforts to stop him. He was then open to pass to ex-Pompey loanee Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and the winger slotted the ball past Paul Jones.

Thankfully, that only proved to be a minor setback as Dunne won the ball in midfield and the referee ignored Cambridge's protests over a high boot which meant the ball was passed to Wallace who threaded it to an unmarked Tubbs who curled the ball into the net to restore the lead.

Pompey continued to exert pressure on Cambridge's brittle backline and the lead was extended when Wallace's shot through a crowd of bodies in the box could only be parried by Dunn and Paul Robinson was in the right place to blast in the rebound.

Cambridge had two good chances to reduce the deficit after that as Ryan Bird looked to be as useless in a U's shirt as he was in a Pompey shirt having failed to anticipate a cross across the box whilst Slew's shot went wide.

Richard Money's men would pay for those missed chances as Wallace crossed for an unmarked Tubbs to head in Pompey's fourth of the match just before half-time to put Pompey fans into dreamland.

Danny Hollands really should have made it 5-1 at the start of the second half but could only head Wallace's corner over from close range.

Cambridge upped their game after the break and began to test the Pompey defence with some crosses from wide positions and that seemed to work as some sloppy defending meant Greg Taylor's cross met the head of Simpson to make the score 4-2.

The same player also hit the crossbar soon after as some thoughts about blowing a 4-2 lead must have crept into some of the Pompey fans with the game becoming so open.

This meant that Pompey also had chances to extend their lead and Richard Tait had to clear the ball off the line after some great work by Josh Passley whilst Hollands also volleyed the ball narrowly over the bar.

The fifth goal did arrive soon after and it came in comical fashion. Wallace's pass found Ryan Taylor who seemed to slip and with goalkeeper Dunn expecting a shot, the ball ended up coming off the Pompey striker and going through Dunn's legs before slowly trickling over the line.

That goal marked the first time Pompey had scored five away from home since their final day rout of Bradford City at the end of the 2002/2003 championship winning season, but things soon got even better.

Johnny Ertl's shot was blocked and an attempted clearance ricocheted off Wallace into Taylor who squared the ball to Tubbs to tap in and complete his perfect hat-trick and make it six for Pompey, a feat not seen away from Fratton Park since a 6-3 victory away at Leyton Orient all the way back in 1963.

The final whistle blew to scenes of delirious Pompey fans who were astonished by what they had just seen. Andy Awford's men had only scored six goals away from home in the league all season and so to match that tally in one game is incredible.

Many people will ask the question if it was Pompey actually being that good on the day or was it just Cambridge being that bad? Both, would be the answer to that question.

The U's were absolutely atrocious at the back and couldn't cope with Taylor's physical presence whilst Tubbs was too clever for them and Wallace simply tormented them all game in what was a virtuoso performance that produced a goal and three assists.

Pompey also bossed the midfield for the majority of the game thanks to an outstanding performance from Dunne which may be overshadowed by the attacking players but he won nearly every challenge and rarely gave the ball away. Hollands also contributed to the robust midfield and could have helped himself to a couple of goals too.

The wing backs also did an excellent job and in Passley it seems like Awford has found the cure for his right back problems this season. Unfortunately his loan spell expires after Tuesday's match and so that needs to be rectified pronto so he can continue at Pompey for the rest of the season.

That performance yesterday was based on a solid formation where everyone knew what their roles were, albeit the players were helped by some ultra generous defending from Cambridge but everything seemed to "click" during the afternoon which ended in a truly memorable result for our football club.

But it's important that we don't get carried away. As Awford stated in his post-match interview, the thrashing is still only worth three points and it will soon be forgotten about if Pompey don't build on it with another win on Tuesday night against Tranmere.

The confidence in this team is growing, though, and it seems like keeping hold of Andy Awford was the correct decision by the board now. If his team keep performing the way they did yesterday then who knows what they can achieve by the time the season ends?

For now though, Pompey fans who were at the match yesterday will no doubt still be talking about it now and undoubtedly will be talking about it for the rest of their lives.

Pompey Player Ratings

Paul Jones: 6 - Kicking was poor but had little chance with the goals.

Josh Passley: 8 - Looks a class above. Need to keep hold of him.

Joe Devera: 6 - Costly error for the equaliser but solid overall.

Paul Robinson: 8 - Showed poacher's instincts for his goal and marshalled the defence well under pressure.

Jack Whatmough: 6 - A little slack in his marking but good on the ball.

Dan Butler: 7 - Looking more accomplished.

James Dunne: 9 - Bossed the midfield with another outstanding showing.

Danny Hollands: 7 - His best performance for a while but should have scored.

Jed Wallace: 10 - Terrorised Cambridge all game and never relented. A goal and three assists tells you all you need to know.

Ryan Taylor: 9 - U's defenders couldn't deal with him and he played his part in most of Pompey's attacks.

Matt Tubbs: 10 - Predatory performance and made some clever runs that Cambridge couldn't cope with.