Pompey Edge Plucky Plymouth

Last updated : 26 January 2008 By Jim Bonner
They call it "the beautiful game" but Pompey had to win ugly to beat Plymouth Argyle and book their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Last night I had a dream where a Plymouth defender scored early on in front of the Fratton End and they held on to beat us 1-0. I feared that nightmare would become reality after some shoddy marking allowed a cross to come in from the right and Chris Clark tapped in to give Argyle the lead.

The sell-out crowd upped the volume in an attempt to raise Pompey's game after conceding so early, just like last week but the Pilgrims defended stoutly and their tactics worked perfectly to nullify a poor home side that lacked any quality to break them down.

We were lucky to get back on level terms but as they say, "if you don't buy a ticket then you can't win the raffle". Pompey equalised after a corner led to Lassana Diarra and his long distance shot from outside the box deflected past McCormick to give us an equaliser we barely deserved given how poor we were playing.

What was even more surprising was that we went into half-time with a lead as Niko Kranjcar fired in right before the break after a mess in the box. The players would have certainly been going into the tunnel on the losing side if it wasn't for Jamo though, who made a couple of fantastic saves as our defence were all at sea.

There was a change before the second half as David Nugent had a groin strain and was subbed for Arnold Mvuemba as Harry changed the system to 4-5-1.

Pompey looked more comfortable in the second half but Plymouth still carved out the better chances and once again we had David James to thank when he produced an outstanding save to deny Jermaine Easter.

There was a huge shout for handball from the away end as apparently Sylvain Distin handled in the area. I couldn't see it and can't comment but from what I've heard, we were lucky to get away with it.

Our best chance came in the second half when Benjani beat his man and fired narrowly wide but in the end I think every Pompey fan was relieved to hear the final whistle as it brought an end to an uninspiring, tough game that I am grateful to have won.

The only Pompey players who really shone today were David James, Sylvain Distin and Lassana Diarra. Both full backs had bad games as did David Nugent who did nothing to suggest he has a long-term future at the club. Saying that, credit should go to Plymouth for making it difficult and not allowing us to pass.

A big shout for Havant & Waterlooville too, who took the lead at Anfield twice before eventually losing 5-2 to Liverpool. If Yossi Benayoun hadn't equalised right before half-time then who knows?

The most important thing is that we avoid them and any other Premier League side in the next round of the FA Cup.

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 8 - Some decent saves that won us the game.

Glen Johnson: 6 - Lacklustre defensively and not much better going forward.

Sylvain Distin: 7 - Was holding the defence together by himself at times.

Noe Pamarot: 6 - Looked a bit lost.

Hermann Hreidarsson: 5 - A liability.

Lauren: 6 - Not a bad performance considering he was played out of position.

Pedro Mendes: 6 - Lost the ball too many times but grew into the match.

Lassana Diarra: 8 - A class act.

Niko Kranjcar: 7 - Caused the Argyle defence some problems.

David Nugent: 4 - Missed a good chance and off at half-time after a poor showing.

Benjani: 6 - Worked hard but wasn't given much to work with.


Asmir Begovic

Lucien Aubey

Richard Hughes

Sean Davis: 6 - A solid return to action.

Arnold Mvuemba: 6 - Looked good at times.