Proud Pompey Exit Cup

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 31 January 2016

Portsmouth's FA Cup run came to an end after a 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth but the players can be proud of their efforts as the Premier League side were given a run for their money.

Neutrals watching the first half would have struggled to identify which team were in the top flight as Pompey played some excellent football and created a couple of early chances through Marc McNulty.

Juan Iturbe forced Ryan Fulton to turn his effort onto the post but the weakened Cherries struggled to keep the ball due to Pompey's pressing game and Paul Cook would have been happy if the scores were level at the interval.

However, the upset was on thanks to a glorious move that totalled 48 passes (despite a couple of interceptions) which led to Gary Roberts firing past Adam Federici in the box. The whole passage of play is on youtube and it's well worth watching again seeing as Match Of The Day failed to do it justice.

The second half saw Pompey continue their bright play and carved out a few more chances but the game changed when both managers made changes. Eddie Howe brought on Matt "not good enough for Portsmouth" Ritchie and Marc Pugh whilst Gary Roberts and Christian Burgess were withdrawn for Gareth Evans and Adam Webster.

The Cherries played their way back into the game as Premier League quality began to shine but it was frustrating to see that for all of their slick play, the equaliser came from a simple set-piece as Josh King glanced Eunan O'Kane's free kick past Fulton.

Pompey's best chance of another goal came when Kyle Bennett curled a free kick directly at Federici but Bournemouth won the tie late on when Fulton produced a brilliant save to deny Lewis Grabban only for Pugh to score the rebound.

There were no more chances but the Pompey fans were happy at full time knowing that they had given their Premier League opponents a real tough game and the players gave their all.

If you were to be critical you could ask why Cook took Pompey's best player off in Roberts at such a crucial time but given that he probably isn't quite as fit as some of the other players in the squad after his injury and the fact that he will need to be fresh for Morecambe on Tuesday, the switch made sense.

However, there were so many great performances yesterday and those neutrals watching the feature on the game on the BBC would have been impressed.

Bennett was a livewire, Fulton's reputation continues to grow, McNulty's movement gave the returning Sylvain Distin a headache yet it was Ben Close who was arguably the most impressive with an assured performance that suggests that he has a big future ahead of him and should really be playing regularly for Pompey.

Overall, it was an enjoyable tie that captured the soul of the FA Cup. However, the league now takes full priority with Tuesday's trip to Morecambe a key game in the race for promotion.

Those who weren't caught up in the FA Cup festivities would have noticed that Pompey have slipped down to sixth place in League Two after Accrington Stanley beat Bristol Rovers. They are now a point above the Blues and still have a game in hand.

On the other hand, Plymouth are having a real wobble at the top of the table after a 1-0 defeat to Wycombe and should Pompey win all three of their games in hand on the Pilgrims, they'll only be three points behind with Argyle yet to come to Fratton Park.

There's still plenty to play for and should Pompey reproduce yesterday's performance on a consistent basis when it really matters, promotion will be the end result.

Pompey Player Ratings

Ryan Fulton: 7 - A couple of fantastic saves.

Ben Davies: 6 - Slowed as the game went on.

Christian Burgess: 7 - Looks back to his best.

Matt Clarke: 7 - Glenn Murray got no change from him.

Enda Stevens: 7 - Made Iturbe look ordinary.

Michael Doyle: 7 - Didn't stop working.

Ben Close: 8 - Unsung hero of the game.

Gary Roberts: 8 - Goal capped an excellent showing.

Kyle Bennett: 8 - Caused so many problems.

Marc McNulty: 7 - Had a few chances.

Adam McGurk: 6 - Never really stood out.

Substitutes

Paul Jones

Adam Webster (Burgess 62): 6 - Slotted in fine.

Adam Barton

Kal Naismith

Gareth Evans (Roberts 62): 5 - Never made an impact.

Ben Tollitt (McGurk 77): N/A - Not enough time.

Conor Chaplin

Portsmouth Match Reports


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