Victory in the valleys

Last updated : 10 November 2004 By Keith Allman
To be honest, I'm somewhat surprised by last night's events. I thought Cardiff would be right up for it and give us a battle. It would be physical, intimidating, and they wouldn't give us a second on the ball. After all, as manager Lennie Lawrence said pre-match, "It's not everyday we get Premiership players down here".

In fact, it was as easy as easy can be. I said pre-match that it would be no walk in the park; needless to say, I got that completely wrong. The home team never even started, and only forced Jamie Ashdown into one real save; and that was with a long shot. Pompey, meanwhile, were as professional as they needed to be. Solid without being spectacular, we strutted around at our own pace and let the ball do the work. No need to knacker ourselves out or get carried away, it was a case of being patient, picking the right pass, and taking our chances when they came.

The whole team performance was good last night. We didn't need to be fantastic, but we did enough to get the job done. Stefanovic, De Zeeuw and Unsworth were reliable, which is just bloody weird - they were a perfect unit against Manchester United, looked confused and lost against Villa, and last night were back to their telepathic understanding again. Faye was one of the best players on the pitch, constantly fighting to get the ball and could've scored, but for a fine intervention by Danny Gabbidon. Yakubu did what he does best - looks lazy and not in the game, and then suddenly pops up and grabs a goal. His penalty no doubt ruffled a few feathers with David Unsworth, but in truth it was well taken.

Credit to Matt Taylor too, reinstated at his better position of left midfield. When he's played at left back this season he's looked ropey; last night with Unsworth in support behind him he was able to get forward and attack. He's still not as confident and willing to take people on as a year ago or so, but it's nice to see him getting back on form. Who knows how he missed the chance to score though; lucky for him that Kavanagh decided to chop his legs seconds after and give us a penalty.

All in all, a successful night. Yak and Cisse picked up niggles and had to be susbstituted, although we hope it's more as a precaution than genuine trouble. The draw for the quarter final is tonight (Wednesday), and hopefully we'll get a home tie - preferably against someone like Watford, all disrespect intended.

Who knows; the song of last night, "We're coming back for the final", may yet come true.