Utaka Sends Pompey Through

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 23 January 2010
John Utaka's brace sent Pompey through to the fifth round of the FA Cup after defeating Sunderland at Fratton Park.

Prior to the match, the protest march went ahead and culminated in a mass gathering outside the entrance of Fratton Park. There was plenty of singing and many signs and banners on full display.

My favourite was a huge sign with statements from the club last year (that have since been proven untrue) on a background with "Comical Ali" standing outside the entrance of the ground. There were banners stating "Invest In The Best" amongst others whilst I'm also pleased to report that there were no racist songs sung outside the ground.

What was sung were the majority of pro-Pompey and anti-owner songs you've heard already (with one or two about Southampton thrown in for good measure.)

Peter Storrie eventually emerged to a chorus of boos and was handed a letter by a couple of young fans. He told one fan that he would send the letter to the owner if he knew who he was, which could just be more spin to deflect attention away from himself but if it is true then it's shocking that the C.E.O of a Premier League football club does not know who owns it!

Storrie disappeared after having more abuse directed at him and that was the end of the pre-match protest and it was time to watch some football!

I have to say that I'm very impressed with the way the Pompey players conducted themselves on the pitch today. They could have easily wilted with everything that is going on off the pitch but they showed unity, got stuck in and outplayed their opponents after a poor start.

Of course, letting Sunderland take the lead didn't help matters after the Pompey defence failed to deal with a flick on into the box that Darren Bent volleyed in.

But the heads didn't drop and Pompey continued to stick at their task but it took a bizarre goal to get back on level terms. Craig Gordon came too far off his line got caught out by a tame looping header from Utaka surely didn't expect to score.

After an even first half, Pompey stepped up a gear in the second and Utaka grabbed his second goal of the game after beating the two Sunderland centre backs to the ball with his pace and producing an end product that we don't see often enough from the Nigerian.

Utaka may have had a hat-trick but decided to square the ball to Mullins who missed the ball completely and it rolled to Boateng who struck narrowly wide.

The beleaguered Mackems thought they had equalised late on when Da Silva's header was cleared off the line but our defence stood firm to withstand the late pressure and book Pompey's place in the next round of the cup.

The team left the pitch to a standing ovation that the players lapped up. There was a sense of unity between the fans in the stand and the men on the pitch which is great to see and firmly underlines the fact that we fully back the team and the manager.

You can't say the same thing for the board as supporters returned to the Fratton Park entrance to make sure that Al-Faraj, Jacob and Storrie received the message loud and clear.

The only downpoint of the day was the idiots that tried to invade the pitch during the game. A couple of people wandered on during the first half, and it took an age for the stewards to deal with them whilst Hermann and Mokoena calmed them down.

The second time came after Utaka scored his second goal although the people who rushed onto the pitch were promptly dealt with.

These events couldn't spoil a good day for Pompey fans though and whilst the "Que Sera Sera" chants may be premature, this win sets us up nicely for Tuesday's mega important game with West Ham.

Pompey Player Ratings

Asmir Begovic: 6 - Smart save from late free kick after uncertain start.

Anthony Vanden Borre: 7 - Supported the attack well and did his job at the back.

Marc Wilson: 7 - Did very well to nullify Kenwyne Jones.

Younes Kaboul: 7 - Showed what a big miss he'll eventually be.

Hermann Hreidarsson: 5 - Still seems jaded.

Aaron Mokoena: 7 - A better performance than usual.

Michael Brown: N/A - Suffered an early injury.

Papa Bouba Diop: 6 - Really got stuck in.

Kevin-Prince Boateng: 7 - Instigated most of Pompey's attacks.

Frederic Piquionne: 6 - Ran all day.

John Utaka: 8 - Two goals to add to a generally threatening performance. More of this please, John.


Jamie Ashdown

Leonard Sowah

Hayden Mullins (Diop 68): 5 - Poor passing.

Angelos Basinas (Brown 9): 7 - Shone once again.

Danny Webber (Piquionne 90): N/A - Sub to eat the clock.

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