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Blues power past Pompey in cup shock
Portsmouth 1, Wycombe Wanderers 3.
JOEL Grant scored after 13 seconds and Dean Morgan bagged a brace as Wanderers stunned Portsmouth in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Blues shocked the 2008 FA Cup winners with a two goal blitz as they raced out of the blocks and left Fratton Park numb with surprise.
Grant netted one of the quickest goals ever scored by a Wanderers player before Morgan scored either side of Izale McLeod’s stoppage time strike for Pompey.
This wasn’t an all hands to the pump defensive effort from Wanderers either, as the Blues outplayed their higher-graded hosts at times and scored again after the break, just when a Portsmouth onslaught was expected by everyone inside Fratton Park.
Gareth Ainsworth watched from the sidelines for the first time since taking up the manager’s reins and made no fewer than six changes from the side that beat Torquay on Saturday.
Those that stepped up to the plate showed the pride in the shirt that Ainsworth has demanded from them, with Dave Winfield epitomising that with a series of blocks and interceptions as Pompey tried and failed to get back into the game.
Portsmouth may be a shadow of the side that reached the FA Cup final as recently as 2010 but they were still able to call upon the services of seasoned internationals who had tasted the Premier League limelight only recently and prolific lower league goalscorers.
Wanderers not only made a mockery of the south coast side being a division higher but also their own precarious league position as they bossed the early stages and swiftly built up a two goal lead in an astonishing opening.
Blues couldn’t have had a better start as Grant collected a pass from Bruno Andrade – signed earlier in the day – and bought himself time and space to curl the ball past Simon Eastwood and into the net before a Portsmouth player had touched the ball.
Just 13 seconds were on the clock and not much more had passed when Morgan was left with too much room by the home defence, but the striker shot just too far over the crossbar.
Morgan wasn’t to be denied and he eventually doubled the lead after an almighty goalmouth scramble that deservedly brought a second goal. Jo Kuffour was played in by Andrade but from six yards out he hit his shot against the post.
Pompey failed to clear their lines sufficiently and Kuffour was denied twice by desperate goalkeeping from Eastwood before being pulled down as he attempted to score at the third time of asking, but strike partner Morgan nipped in to poke home his second goal of the season.
That sparked the League One side into life and Nikki Bull, back between the posts for Wanderers after recovering from a thigh injury, made a sharp low save to deny McLeod’s near post effort.
He was called into action from the corner that resulted as he tipped Gabor Gyepes’ header over the bar before McLeod had a shot blocked from another set piece as shots rained down on both goals in the wet conditions.
Back came Wycombe though and Kuffour’s luck was out once more when, having wriggled clear and parted the Pompey defence again, his curling effort smacked back into play off the upright.
Play swung from end to end in a breathless encounter and Ainsworth’s friend Akos Buzsaky, who had been training with Wanderers in the weeks prior to joining Pompey, was next to try his luck but his low drive skidded wide off the sodden turf.
Wes Thomas had Pompey penalty appeals turned down before his shot was blocked by one of the returning Wanderers, Winfield.
In injury time the home side managed to pull one back as Bull could only paw a low cross-shot from Adam Webster back into play, Anthony Stewart didn’t manage to get it clear and McLeod was on hand to lash into the roof of the net to give Portsmouth renewed hope going into the second half.
Hope started to turn to expectation as the hosts increased the pressure at the start of the second half, although the first shot from Thomas was closer to troubling the corner flag than the back of Bull’s net.
Gyepes scuffed woefully wide from outside the box but it was due to diligent defending from the visitors that the centre half was forced to try his luck from so far out.
And on the hour Blues were rewarded for their courage as Kuffour’s backheel played in Andrade, who was brought crashing down by Webster for a penalty. Morgan stepped up to take it and although he was initially foiled by an excellent full-length save from Eastwood the striker made no mistake from the rebound, heading high into the net to restore the two goal lead in front of the travelling supporters.
That sucker punch knocked the stuffing out of Portsmouth and they struggled to get within sight of the visiting goal, even with the introduction of fans’ favourite Ashley Harris from the bench, and a Johnny Ertl header from a corner that was batted away easily enough by Bull was all they could muster.
The centre half was out of luck shortly afterwards as a shot from another corner was cleared, although this one was with far greater simplicity than the chance preceding it.
Wycombe chances were at more of a premium now, with Matt Spring’s effort going well off target as the recalled midfielder tried to relieve some of the pressure that was starting to build on his side’s goal.
The pressure came to nothing as Blues comfortably held on for a shock cup win – leading to fans to wonder whether their caretaker boss has done enough to convince the Wanderers board he’s the man to take them forward.
Wanderers: Bull, Foster, Winfield, Stewart, Dunne, Andrade, Spring, Scowen, Grant, Morgan, Kuffour (sub Morias). Substitutes not used: Ingram, Logan, Kewley-Graham, Doherty.