Pompey Edge Palace From The Spot
Portsmouth 1 Crystal Palace 1 (Portsmouth win 4-3 on penalties) Pompey are into the third round of the Carling Cup following a dramatic penalty shootout at Fratton Park following a 1-1 draw.Steve Cotterill played the only side he could, meaning Pompey were virtually at full strength whilst George Burley named a weakened Palace side, though Edgar Davids did make his debut.It was the Eagles who were the better team in the first half as once again Pompey struggled to deal with the opposition wingers and had to rely on Marc Wilson to provide a creative spark in midfield.It may just be me, but this 4-3-3 system that Pompey are playing isn't doing the fullbacks any favours whilst Nugent looks isolated up front on his own due to lack of support from the wingers. Unfortunately, Cotterill doesn't have the players at his disposal to play any other formation at this current place in time.Pompey did improve in the second half but not before Zaha had tormented our defence again, with Djilali firing wide.But Palace were made to pay for their missed chances, as David Nugent barged his way through the Eagles' defence and curled the ball into the net whilst falling, which played a part in him going off injured soon after.That goal gave the home side confidence and Julian Speroni found himself to be busy, having to save audacious efforts from Ritchie, Dickinson and Hughes. Pompey looked comfortable though and it seemed victory was close.However, there was a late sting in the tail as Ibrahima Sonko got his clearance all wrong and tapped the ball into his own net to gift Palace an equaliser. I initially missed the equaliser as I was explaining to my friend, who had never attended a football match in her life, why fans weren't allowed to bring whistles into the ground.I have seen Sonko's gaffe since and it didn't quite match the sheer brilliance of Tony Popovic's own goal for us when we were playing Palace five years ago, but it was almost as stupid.But that wasn't the end of the action in normal time, as Zaha was sent off for petulently kicking Dickinson in an off-the-ball incident, so George Burley's team would have to play extra time with ten men.As you'd have expected, Pompey dominated extra time with plenty of shots for the Palace defence to deal with. Djilali had a couple of efforts as Palace broke but the penalty shootout was inevitable.I have to give some respect to any Palace fan who travelled down from London by train last night and stayed to watch the shootout, knowing that there were no trains back to London from 10:30.Kieran Djilali kicked off the bizzare shootout by having his spot kick saved by Jamie Ashdown, with Michael Brown giving Pompey the lead with his cooly taken penalty.Kieron Cadogan brought the scores level again before Marc Wilson gave Pompey the lead after hitting his penalty right into the corner of the net. It was then more joy for the home support as Jonathan Obika "Quashie'ed" his effort over the bar but Tommy Smith's spot kick was then saved by Speroni.Converted penalties from Palace's Paddy McCarthy and Owen Garvan either side of Marlon Pack's well taken goal meant that it was up to Nadir Ciftci to score the winner, only for the Dutchman to hit the post.So the shootout went to sudden death and Ashdown stopped Nathaniel Clyne's penalty to give Carl Dickinson the opportunity to win the game but the on loan defender's effort was saved, only for the ref to give him another chance after he judged that Speroni had come too far off his line.Unfortunately, Dickinson again squandered the chance and I began to feel that this wasn't going to be our night. Thankfully, Ashdown was the hero once again as he stopped Adam Barrett's spot kick and then Richard Hughes, of all people, held his nerve to put Pompey into round three of the Carling Cup.Relief all round, then, but there were aspects of Pompey's performance that worry me. The biggest problem is the defence, as Sonko again proved himself to be a liability and the fullbacks again found themselves isolated with wingers.This, added to the fact our "not-up-to-full-fitness" first team played 120 minutes of football, does not bode well for the visit of Cardiff this Saturday. The Bluebirds possess two of the better wingers in the Championship as well as a certain Craig Bellamy.But hey, at least we can look forward to the next round of the Carling Cup. At least until we get an uninspiring away draw at somewhere like Blackburn or Bolton.Pompey Player RatingsJamie Ashdown: 9 - Good performance in the match, even better for the penalties.Hayden Mullins: 6 - Did OK but was isolated at times.Aaron Mokoena: 6 - Steady, but not outstanding.Ibrahima Sonko: 5 - Blunder capped shaky showing.Carl Dickinson: 5 - Still struggling and missed from the spot twice to boot.Marc Wilson: 7 - Tried to do a bit too much at times but still showed his quality.Michael Brown: 8 - More like the tenacious Brown we know, but not particularly love!Richard Hughes: 6 - Steady performance, even managed a few forward passes!Matt Ritchie: 6 - In and out of the game.Tommy Smith: 6 - A few good moments.David Nugent: 7 - Finally got his goal.SubstitutesLiam O'BrienJoel Ward (Ritchie 90): 6 - Shows promise.Marlon Pack (Mullins 103): 6 - Looked comfortable.Nadir Ciftci (Nugent 67): 6 - A bright spark.
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