Ten-man Town give Pompey a real test

Ipswich Town 0 Portsmouth 1IPSWICH Town lost their long unbeaten home record when they were knocked out of the FA Cup at the third round stage by Portsmouth at Portman Road this afternoon.

By Elvin King

Ipswich Town 0 Portsmouth 1

IPSWICH Town lost their long unbeaten home record when they were knocked out of the FA Cup at the third round stage by Portsmouth at Portman Road this afternoon.

The Premier League side, handed a big advantage when Town were reduced to ten men, were given a real test by a gallant home team in a tie that typified the appeal, magic and controversy of the competition.

Ipswich lost Liam Trotter in the 25th minute when his lunge at Pedro Mendes was deemed two-footed by the referee. After chatting quietly to Trotter for several seconds it looked a case of yellow card or nothing until a red card was suddenly produced.

It was second-half substitute David Nugent who won the game for disappointing Pompey in the 51st minute, running through a square Town defence to finish well.

Most Read

Town had been unbeaten in their previous 17 home matches stretching back to March last year, and they will be hoping to get back to winning ways in the league against Stoke next weekend.

Town made two changes from the side that did so well to beat leaders West Brom 2-0 in the Coca-Cola Championship on New Year's Day with skipper De Vos suffering from bruised ribs and Walters missing his first game of the season after going down with flu. In came Wilnis, and the Dutchman also took over the captain's armband. Clarke replaced Walters to play up front beside Counago, while there were two surprises on the bench with Naylor making his first appearance in the first team since last February and Peters named substitute for the first time since the 3-1 defeat at Sheffield United on November 6.

Counago was making his 200th Town appearance.

Ipswich had begun confidently enough, but it needed Alexander to be alert in the tenth minute after full-back Johnson made a mazy run almost to the by-line. The Town keeper beat the ball away, and Bruce tidied up at the expense of a corner.

Clarke almost set up Haynes before Diop should have done better with a close-range header in the 12th minute after a cross from the right. He was unchallenged but headed straight at Alexander.

A minute later Clarke tried his luck from 35 yards, but his left-footed volley went well wide of James' goal.

Ipswich were not giving their opponents time to settle, and when Utaka did have space to centre from the right he sent the ball over the bar and out for a goal kick.

The home team had yet to mount a serious attack although they were competing well against their illustrious visitors and were very much in the game.

Sito's long 22nd minute through ball to Counago almost saw the striker wriggle his way around Distin and into a shooting position. The defender managed to clear at the expense of a corner.

In the 25th minute Ipswich lost Trotter after he received a surprising red card from Premiership referee Halsey. Mendes was left on the ground after a tackle from the teenager, but it looked a yellow card at most and the referee took his time - with no pressure from the Pompey players - before stunning Trotter by raising a red card.

TV replays showed that Trotter at no time had two feet off the ground when he rather lunged in, and his sending off could well be rescinded when the referee sees the video.

There was now an real edge to the game, with Clarke having taken Trotter's left-sided role and Counago up front on his own.

Pompey were far from being at their best, and James ran to the corner flag before giving away a throw-in.

Ipswich had still to test him, however, and with ten men their chances of doing this were now severely reduced.

Utaka went down the right in stoppage time but provided another embarrassing moment for the visitors when his shot landed in row Z of the North Stand.

Garvan's low corner was stepped over by Counago at the near post and Clarke did not react quickly enough on the goal line with the big boot of a defender hastily clearing for another corner.

Nugent, who cost £6million last summer, came on for Mendes at the start of the second period with the substitute running through beyond Bruce but being held up by Wilnis with the suspicion of handball as the Dutchman cleared. Haynes then landed a right-wing cross on top of the goal netting.

In the 48th minute Town went close when Haynes ran forward and saw his low 20-yard goal-bound shot touched round the post by a non-too-convincing James.

But it was Portsmouth who found the net in the 51st minute to surely end Town's hopes of an upset. Campbell played a long ball forward from inside his own half and NUGENT sped between both Bruce and Wilnis while played on side by left back Wright. Nugent, a former Preston player who has a habit of netting against Town, ran on to take his chance well with a neat finish beyond Alexander.

After 58 minutes Peters came on to try to add some zip to the Town play - with Clarke taking his place in the home dug-out.

Nugent had certainly made the visitors more of a potent force going forward, and in the 64th minute he turned well and lifted a 16-yard right-foot shot on to the bar with Alexander only able to stand and watch.

Distin had to head for a corner a cross by Peters as Counago threatened in the 72nd minute after neat build-up play. Then James had to head clear an Hreidarsson back pass as Ipswich pushed forward more as the clock ticked down.

Set up by a lively Nugent, Kanu was the next in a long line of visiting players to shoot high over the bar when in a reasonable position.

From Johnson's 77th minute free-kick, Diop had a free header eight yards out, with Alexander making a good save high up on his goal line.

Lee came on for Williams after 78 minutes just after Utaka had achieved the miss of the season when completed unmarked in front of an open goal following a cross by Hreidarsson. The ball bobbled a bit but it showed the weakness of the opposition in front of goal.

Then, in the 84th minute, Lee climbed above Distin to send in a powerful header that James did well to dive to his right and fist away.

Naylor received a great ovation when he came on for Sito after 88 minutes, and he was nearly on the end of a free-kick at the far post within seconds of his arrival.

In the three minutes of stoppage time James made a stunning save to deny Haynes when he somehow got down to his right to push the ball away as Haynes aimed an 18-yarder that was destined for the bottom corner.

Ipswich had done all they could and come out of the game with a great deal of credit.