A much changed Portsmouth side were dumped out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy by Northampton Town tonight after a dismal second half performance at Fratton Park.
The first half started well enough with Pompey dominating possession for the first ten minutes and creating a couple of chances but the match soon opened up and the scores were only level due to an offside flag being raised against Ryan Cresswell when he put the ball in the back of the net.
Pompey's best move of the half came on the break when some neat build up play on the right saw Jed Wallace cross for Ryan Taylor but his diving header narrowly missed the target.
Paul Jones was grateful to see a couple of loose balls in the box fall into his arms with the defence not clearing their lines properly but Northampton did take the lead on 28 minutes when a pass split the Pompey defence open and David Moyo curled the ball into the net via the post.
The hosts were level soon after as Taylor took down an excellent pass from Alex Wynter in the box and produced a cool finish to beat Jordan Archer in the Cobblers' goal.
There were other chances late in the half for both sides as an entertaining first half ended with the scores level.
Unfortunately, the second half was in complete contrast to the first. Wallace was replaced by Andy Barcham and Pompey lost all attacking impetus.
The visitors took the lead again when Lawson D'Ath's cross found Kaid Mohamed who had run across the Pompey defenders and tapped the ball home with nobody marking him.
Andy Awford's men struggled to muster a response and never looked like equalising. Northampton should have had a third goal when Dan Butler's throw in went straight to Alex Nicholls who had the simple task of beating Jones one-on-one and even had an extra man in support but his shot was poor and the Pompey goalkeeper saved it.
The only real pressure applied by Pompey came in the lengthy amount of stoppage time due to injuries to Adam Webster (who was on as a sub in the first half for Joe Devera who also limped off) and Ricky Holmes who managed to recover from a nasty late challenge from D'Ath which somehow only resulted in a yellow card when it looked worthy of a straight red.
There was also another incident involving Holmes going down in the box. Awford says it was a blatant penalty but the winger did make a meal of it. It wasn't a foul but yet for some reason the referee booked Holmes for an apparent infringement even though he did nothing wrong.
No equaliser came after that incident and although many fans won't be losing sleep about being knocked out of the JPT, the result means that Pompey have only won one of their last seven matches and the injuries to two defenders mean that Awford's squad is down to the "bare bones" in that area, which isn't exactly promising given how the centre backs played tonight.
Scoring still remains a problem and Miles Storey yet again didn't even make the squad. Awford says he was left out due to "lack of confidence" and that it needs to be rebuilt. Tonight would have been the perfect opportunity where he could have made a difference in the match whereas Holmes and Barcham were ineffective. The one positive would be that Taylor took his goal well and looked a threat.
However, Awford has a lot of thinking to do before Saturday's match with Mansfield where defeat will simply not be acceptable.
Pompey Player Ratings
Paul Jones: 7 - Made several good saves.
Alex Wynter: 6 - Nice assist for Taylor.
Johnny Ertl: 4 - Lack of pace was exposed.
Joe Devera: N/A - Pulled his muscle early on.
Dan Butler: 6 - Good going forward.
Nigel Atangana: 5 - Poor first touches.
Ben Close: 6 - Did OK.
Nick Awford: 5 - Still looks a way off breaking into the first team.
Jed Wallace: 6 - Pompey lost attacking threat without him.
Ricky Holmes: 5 - No end product.
Ryan Taylor: 7 - A well taken goal.
Adam Webster (Devera 8): 5 - Looked shaky at centre back.
Nicky Shorey (Webster 60): N/A - No impact.
Andy Barcham (Wallace 46): 5 - Didn't have any influence on the game.