Pompey Ease To Win Over Carlisle

Portsmouth got their November off to the perfect start after brushing Carlisle United aside in a game they dominated from start to finish.

Craig Westcarr pounced on Dan Hanford's spill from Miles Storey's shot to score after just two minutes as Andy Awford's men took complete control of the match. The Cumbrians' only effort came when the ball found Patrick Brough in the box but he could only fire wide.

From then on Pompey were all over their opponents with Ricky Holmes and Jed Wallace causing allsorts of problems down the wings whilst Westcarr and Storey kept Hanford and his hapless defenders in front of him very busy.

Fans must have lost count of the number of corners that Pompey won as the half progressed but the second goal came from a counter-attack. Westcarr played the ball out to Holmes who ran down the wing and produced a superb lob pass to Storey who ran through and smashed the ball into the back of the net.

If there was to be a criticism of Pompey's first half performance it was that they only went into the break two goals up when it could have easily been five or six. Danny Hollands, Joe Devera and Nicky Shorey all could have added their names to the scoresheet if it wasn't for some desperate Carlisle defending and some wayward finishing.

Pompey didn't maintain the high tempo when the second half began and were guilty of some sloppy play but Carlisle were a team without fight or ideas and so never really posed a threat, bar a Derek Asamoah overhead kick that went wide.

The home side soon upped their game once again in search of a third goal and it came on 74 minutes when James Dunne won the ball and passed it to Westcarr who then produced a nice cross to the far post for an unmarked Hollands to volley in his first goal of the season.

There may have been more goals at the end as substitute Ryan Taylor had a couple of chances to score only for Hanford to eventually claim the ball in the box at the fourth time of asking.

Instead, the final noteworthy incident of the match came when Hayden White went in deliberately late on Hollands with a disgusting challenge with no intent to play the ball and was rightfully shown a red card immediately by referee Chris Sarginson.

Sarginson also booked debutant Bradley Tarbuck for his role in the fracas afterwards even though Dunne was the culprit. It must have been the same coloured boots...

That couldn't sour what was an excellent result after an enjoyable performance that saw Pompey fans leave Fratton Park with smiles on their faces knowing that the three points had seen their team climb to ninth in League Two.

Despite the result, Andy Awford doesn't believe that the performance was Pompey's best of the season. Perhaps he was being a bit coy, but he may have a point as undoubtedly as good as his team were, Carlisle were absolutely terrible.

You can't help but have some sympathy for the 347 Cumbrians who made the long journey to watch their team produce such a pathetic performance where their players showed no desire or bottle and seemed to accept defeat as soon as the first goal went in. The Pompey fans ironically cheering Paul Jones when he made a routine save after 80 minutes would tell the story perfectly.

Thus, maybe Awford is hinting that his team should have had more than three goals and made more of the many chances they created from open play against such a poor team. The same could be said for the set-pieces, including 16 corners, which never resulted in a goal.

That would be nitpicking, however, and it was good to see both Holmes and Hollands produce their best performances of the season whilst Westcarr showed that he is more than just a goal poacher with the assist for the third goal and some good quality dead balls too.

Next up is the FA Cup match with Aldershot but looking forward, the match after that is the televised trip to Plymouth who are currently above Pompey in the league table.

So, whilst brushing aside poor teams at Fort Fratton is great, the only way this team will convince people that it is capable of mounting a serious promotion push is to start reproducing those kind of performances away from home.

Pompey Player Ratings

Paul Jones: 6 - Virtually nothing to do.

Alex Wynter: 6 - Decent return to the side.

Paul Robinson: 7 - Kept Carlisle strikers quiet.

Joe Devera: 7 - Pompey are now seeing the best of him.

Nicky Shorey: 6 - Set-pieces need improving but not troubled at the back.

Ricky Holmes: 8 - Carlisle couldn't handle him.

Danny Hollands: 8 - Starting to look like the player of last season.

James Dunne: 7 - Won most of the 50/50 challenges.

Jed Wallace: 7 - Caused Carlisle plenty of problems.

Miles Storey: 8 - Well taken goal and looks very confident now.

Craig Westcarr: 7 - Proved he can do more than just poach goals despite a couple of poor decisions.


Michael Poke

Johnny Ertl

Dan Butler

Nigel Atangana

Ben Close (Wallace 88): N/A - Given a few minutes to savour.

Bradley Tarbuck (Storey 82): N/A - Unlucky to be booked.

Ryan Taylor (Westcarr 79): N/A - Almost scored.