Belfast Telegraph

Portsmouth 4 Hereford 1

Portsmouth put their Barclays Premier League problems on the backburner for a night and stormed into the Carling Cup third round with a comfortable win over Hereford.

With their club's ownership issues still dragging on and Pompey pointless from three league games, just 6,645 fans turned out to witness the south coast team tackle the League Two strugglers.

But those who did come to Fratton Park were rewarded with a rock-solid performance, as Frederic Piquionne, John Utaka, Niko Kranjcar and Richard Hughes fired their side through.

Injured Portsmouth goalkeeper David James (knee) was rested, along with defender Sylvain Distin, who has been linked with a move to Aston Villa.

Asmir Begovic deputised between the sticks, while Antony Vanden Borre, Angelos Basinas, Richard Hughes and debutant Joel Ward also came into the starting line-up.

Hereford were missing injured attacking duo Marc Pugh and Lee Morris, who suffered knocks last Tuesday, but midfielder Glen Southam played despite being taken off with a cut to his head against Crewe on Saturday.

Portsmouth wasted no time in turning up the pressure and Utaka came close to putting them in front when he nodded wide of the post from Nadir Belhadj's centre after nine minutes.

Utaka was put clean through on goal two minutes later, only for Hereford stopper Adam Bartlett to rush from his line and produce a stunning stop.

Frederic Piquionne was unable to latch onto the rebound and hit the post with a header after 15 minutes.

But he made no mistake when Kranjcar played him in on goal five minutes later, taking his time before coolly slotting under Bartlett.

Utaka then atoned for his earlier wastefulness after 23 minutes, when Piquionne's cross from the left found him free in the box and he buried Portsmouth's second.

Vanden Borre blew a half chance to make it three after 37 minutes when he blazed wide, after running onto Hughes ball on the right of the box.

While few of his Portsmouth team-mates were overawed by the League Two strugglers, Vanden Borre looked far from comfortable on the ball.

A slip from the Belgian on the left-hand corner of the box nearly gifted Hereford a way back into the game after 41 minutes, but Craig Jones' shot across goal went marginally wide.

Portsmouth then extended their advantage at the other end three minutes before the break, when Kranjcar's low shot from the edge of the box evaded Bartlett's grasp and squirmed home.

David Nugent was sent on to join Piquionne in a two-man Portsmouth attack for the second period, replacing Utaka.

Hereford had an opportunity to pull one back two minutes into the half, but Leon Constantine's header from Southam's cross did not come close to troubling Begovic.

Pompey then bagged their fourth goal after 56 minutes when the Bulls failed to clear their lines on the edge of the box.

The ball broke to Hughes, who lashed home a superb left-footed effort on his first appearance of the season.

Hereford appeared to be dead and buried at this point, but they were given a lifeline when Begovic rushed from his goal to challenge Tristan Plummer on the left-hand edge of the box.

The Bristol City loanee went sprawling and referee Andy D'Urso controversially pointed to the spot, despite vocal protests from the Pompey keeper that he took the ball.

Plummer took the spot-kick and Begovic was unable to keep it out, despite getting a hand to the ball.

Kanu was sent on for Piquionne after 64 minutes and the Lyon-owned player was given a richly-deserved ovation by the Fratton faithful on his departure.

Nugent had the chance to make it five after Younes Kaboul sent him clean through after 85 minutes, but the substitute fired his shot straight at Bartlett.

Kanu then weaved his magic on the left-hand side of the penalty area and led the Bulls defence a merry dance.

But Pompey skipper Aaron Mokoena's shot was met by a decent stop from the Hereford keeper.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph