Pompey Stun Rams In League Cup

Last updated : 13 August 2015 By Jim Bonner

Pompey produced one of the shocks of the first round of the League Cup by dumping Derby County out of the competition at Fratton Park.

Paul Cook made a whole host of changes to his side but it didn't seem to be any weaker than the team that put Dagenham to the sword on Saturday.

Derby manager Paul Clement included the likes of Andreas Weimann and Darren Bent in his starting eleven but they had little impact in a match that Pompey fully deserved to win, even if they got a bit of luck on the way.

The attractive passing game that Cook has instilled into his side was on display again as Pompey kept the ball comfortably against the Championship side and both full backs showed tireless energy to expose the opposition's flanks and whip some dangerous crosses in.

In truth Lee Grant wasn't tested very much in the first half but Kyle Bennett did fire a couple of shots wide in what was another livewire performance. Whilst the final ball might have been lacking, the general midfield play and positioning of the defenders were excellent as the Rams' threat was virtually nullified for the entire half until near the end when Matt Clarke cleared a shot off the line.

The second half began in the best way possible as Pompey were gifted the lead thanks to a massive blunder from Grant in the Derby goal. What should have been a routine catch from Adam McGurk's header instead saw the keeper fumble the ball into the net and send the home crowd berserk.

Paul Clement's response was to bring on the big guns as Chris Martin and Tom Ince were introduced to the game but Pompey stuck to their task and Grant was called into action again as he saved efforts from Jayden Stockley and Davies.

However, Derby were level when Jason Shackell outjumped Danny Hollands to head in Johnny Russell's corner although Paul Jones really should have took control of the situation rather than get caught in no man's land.

Whilst some would have believed that the Championship side would have pulled themselves together and won the tie from there, Pompey had other ideas and retook the lead with a fantastic goal.

Some neat build-up play led to Hollands producing a lovely dinked pass down the left for Enda Stevens who squared the ball across the box for Conor Chaplin to instinctively guide the ball into the corner of the net and get Fratton Park bouncing once again.

Pompey's second significant piece of luck came soon after that as Hollands tripped Russell inside the box but referee Paul Tierney decided to award a free kick instead and it was blazed over the bar by the played who'd just been fouled.

The final ten minutes of the match saw the hosts understandably penned into their own half as Derby piled on the pressure late on but some excellent defending coupled with some wayward passing from the visitors meant that Pompey had beaten their so-called superiors and produced an outstanding result that will be talked about for a long while to come.

Paul Cook said in his post-match interview that it was an excellent team performance that won the match and he would be right as everyone pulled their weight once again.

The back four were superb once again as Davies got forward with energy as did Brandan Haunstraup on the opposite flank. Adam Webster was outstanding in the centre whilst Cook must already be thinking about extending Matt Clarke's loan til the end of the season.

Ben Close bossed the midfield in the first half whilst Stockley worked tirelessly up front and provided the perfect foil for an "out ball" when required. He may well have played himself into Saturday's starting line-up although Chaplin also has to be considered after his goalscoring heroics.

Cook must take some credit too for using his substitutions wisely. A proactive manager rather than a reactive one, his decision to bring on Stevens to shore up the left side when Derby were finding too much joy on that side was clever whilst bringing on Chaplin when he did turned out to be an inspired decision.

Much more could be said about the workrate and the character of this team but this piece would go on far too long otherwise but it's difficult not to get carried away after two excellent performances at Fratton Park.

However, the next test comes in the form of trying to cure Pompey's travel sickness as their away record has been dreadful since the FA Cup winning season. Saturday's trip to Plymouth will be a different test altogether whilst Crawley away next Tuesday won't be easy either.

Still, optimism is rightly high after this cup win and maybe, just maybe, this is the season when the misery finally ends. The draw for the next round of the League Cup will take place after the Doncaster vs Leeds tie on Thursday when the Premier League teams not involved in Europe enter the fray, so no big clubs or Scummers to worry about just yet.

Pompey Player Ratings

Paul Jones: 6 - Takes his share of the blame for the goal but decent otherwise.

Ben Davies: 8 - Energetic and positive performance whilst also sound at the back.

Adam Webster: 8 - Looks a completely different player at centre back.

Matt Clarke: 7 - Impressive once again.

Brandan Haunstraup: 7 - Good going forward and never looked out of place.

Danny Hollands: 6 - Should have conceded a penalty but played his part in the second goal.

Ben Close: 7 - Looked very comfortable in the defensive midfield role. One to watch this season.

Kyle Bennett: 7 - Lively in the first half.

Adam McGurk: 6 - Fortunate goal but we didn't see enough of him after injury.

Gareth Evans: 6 - Steady enough.

Jayden Stockley: 8 - Ran himself into the ground and showed some quality in keeping possession too.


Brian Murphy

Christian Burgess

Enda Stevens (McGurk 55): 7 - Bagged an assist and shored up the defence well.

Nigel Atangana

Ben Tollitt (Bennett 74): N/A - Looks a handful when he has the ball.

Conor Chaplin (Haunstrup 71): 8 - Excellent finish for the winner and worked hard to boot.

Matt Tubbs