Chelsea 4 Pompey 0

Chelsea's Juan Mata scores his team's opening goal against Pompey
Chelsea's Juan Mata scores his team's opening goal against Pompey
Pompey hero Paul Walsh

Pompey favourites reunite for Baffins’ stand launch

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It has been 57 years since Pompey last won at Stamford Bridge.

Yet rarely could they have pushed tenants Chelsea so close during such a barren run.

Arguably not even during that glorious Premier League stay have the Blues performed so admirably in west London as they did yesterday.

The 4-0 scoreline may suggest otherwise, while the history books will tell a tale of how Andre Villas-Boas’ side marched into the fourth round of the FA Cup.

As expected, the mighty Chelsea shrugged off the threat of a Championship side whose away record is not the most impressive.

Those present at Stamford Bridge yesterday are aware of the truth, though.

The 3,000 noisy Pompey followers who put their home counterparts to shame throughout know the full story behind this fixture.

Had Dave Kitson finished a wonderful opportunity on 28 seconds it could have been oh so very different.

Had David Norris not dragged a left-foot effort wide from inside the box matters could have been influenced in another way.

Had Marko Futacs, Joel Ward and then Norris not seen their efforts saved and headed clear during a remarkable goalmouth melee it may have been an alternative result.

Regardless, it took a goal from Juan Mata, two from Ramires and one from Frank Lampard to settle this third-round occasion.

And how relieved the hosts were, having been pushed every step of the way by a gutsy visiting side which were a credit to their manager.

Michael Appleton has certainly made a favourable impact during his relatively short time at the club.

Yesterday he was faced with his toughest opponents yet – and Pompey responded magnificently.

This wasn’t a defensive display from a Blues side asked to camp deep in their own half and then to hit the hosts on the break.

The visitors went for the win, they had opportunities and it was only courtesy of some attacking substitutions Chelsea increased the scoreline late on.

Ramires’ two goals in the final seven minutes added a gloss to a scoreline Villas-Boas’ side didn’t deserve.

To a man, Appleton’s troop raised their game and in large periods more than matched a Chelsea side oozing talent and class.

They also enjoyed plenty of late fortune which would have left even the staunchest Chelsea fan admitting the scoreline was not a fair reflection.

As Pompey left the field disconsolate, their fans certainly sounded their appreciation.

After all, they had witnessed an excellent performance ultimately not reflected in the harshest of scorelines.

Those Fratton followers went home proud – and quite rightly.

Before the match, Joel Ward and Greg Halford were given instant recalls having sat out the victory over Watford through suspension.

There was also a return for Ricardo Rocha, back after missing two matches with a calf problem.

He resumed his central defensive partnership with Jason Pearce, Aaron Mokoena moving to right-back.

Halford slotted in at left-back while Ward came in on the right-hand side of midfield, Liam Lawrence going across to the left flank.

That meant Tal Ben Haim and Erik Huseklepp dropped to the bench, while Joe Mattock – who also featured in that Watford game – will rejoin on loan tomorrow.

Among the substitutes was 17-year-old Adam Webster, who has shone in the Academy set-up this season.

For the Chichester youngster, a first-year pro, it was a maiden taste of first-team duty in a competitive match.

There was no place for veteran Kanu, the 2008 FA Cup final match-winner, however.

The reshuffled Pompey should have claimed a shock early lead after just 28 seconds.

Dave Kitson muscled his way between David Luiz and John Terry to gather Marko Futacs’ flick on.

But from inside the penalty area he dragged a left-foot shot wide of the far post with just Petr Cech to beat.

It was a golden opportunity for the striker, who should have done far better in such an excellent position.

At the other end, Stephen Henderson was first called into action in the 13th minute, finger-tipping Fernando Torres’ header from Florent Malouda’s cross around the post.

Mokoena then met Lawrence’s left-wing corner with a towering header, which flashed just over the crossbar.

In the 34th minute, a mistake by Ashley Cole gifted possession to David Norris on the edge of the penalty area.

The midfielder drove his way through before firing a left-foot shot a yard past the post with Cech struggling.

Chelsea continued to be a threat themselves and a neat interchange between Malouda and Lampard saw the latter burst into the box.

However, Henderson raced off his line to dive bravely at the England midfielder’s feet and gather to thwart the danger.

The deadlock was broken, though, just two minutes into the second half.

Ashley Cole charged down Kitson, the ball appearing to strike his arm, nonetheless the full-back fed Malouda who got to the by-line.

He pulled the pull back where Mata was on hand to comfortably finish from close range, with several Pompey players appealing for the ball having gone out of play earlier.

It was harsh on the visitors, who had been giving Chelsea a real game, much to the home fans’ frustration.

But on 54 minutes Appleton’s men came agonisingly close to drawing level.

Kitson dispossessed David Luiz and fed Futacs, who cleverly turned and saw his shot parried by Cech.

Ward followed up and saw his header cleared off the line by the head of the flying Terry and then Norris’ half volley was saved low down by Cech.

It was a moment of drama which drew applause from both sets of supporters and provided a reminder the Championship side were still firmly in contention.

Henderson then had to produce a low stop to deny Ramires after the midfielder latched onto a Torres knockdown inside the penalty area.

Chelsea doubled their advantage in the 83rd minute when Ramires muscled ahead of Halford to prod the ball home at the near post.

The late agony continued for Appleton’s men in the 86th minute when Torres fed Ramires and the Brazilian produced a classy finish.

It was left to Lampard – so often Pompey’s nemesis – to have the final say, driving a low shot past Henderson deep into time added on.

As Pompey made their way off the field of play at the final whistle, their fans applauded.

A flattering scoreline for Chelsea and so, so harsh on the gutsy visitors.