FC Edmonton 1 - Pompey 1 (Pompey win 5-4 on penalties)

Pompey midfielder Danny Rose. Picture: Joe Pepler

Rose: Penalty decision worked in Pompey’s favour

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It’s a tour which has been called into question by the manager and fans alike.

Well, question it no longer.

Granted, it may be a logistical nightmare over too long a time period.

Admittedly, its very conception has prevented the majority of Pompey fans following their side’s progress in person.

Unquestionably, it has hampered the manager’s participation in the transfer market and Championship preparations.

But it has yielded a trophy.

Oh yes, the Edmonton Cup, whose very presence has graced the trophy cabinet of River Plate during the past 12 months.

Now it will stand proud at Fratton Park from Monday onwards.

In the grand scheme of things, it could be seen as nothing more than an irrelevance at a time when there are so many more important things to be concentrating on.

Yet that would be unfair. After all, nobody, but nobody, mocked the Asia Trophy.

And we all know what happened at the end of that 2007-08 season, don’t we?

For Cotterill and the players, though, it was a brief moment of glory – precious respite in a tour which has been disappointing on so many levels.

Even this victory was tainted by injuries to Jon Stewart and Tom Kilbey, below, after a mere five minutes.

They now join Richard Hughes, Hayden Mullins, Tommy Smith and Billy Goddard on the sidelines and will not play again this tour.

In these times of gloom, however, a ray of sunshine – no matter how irrelevant it may appear – should be savoured.

The Edmonton Cup may be mocked in some quarters but for once, just once, in these troubled times let’s be positive.

It certainly meant the world to Nadir Ciftci – the goalscorer and, later, deciding penalty taker.

The 18-year-old couldn’t stop smiling an hour after the final whistle as he maintained his encouraging promise on this two-week tour.

It seems his disappointing display against Ventura was just a blip, as against Edmonton he was once again impressive.

It was his 38th-minute equaliser which set Steve Cotterill’s side on the road to avoiding something of a humiliating defeat.

Edmonton were only formed in November last year and this was only their fourth game in existence.

But there was Ciftci, latching on to Matt Ritchie’s pass to calmly slot home the leveller and lift a sizeable Blues following.

Of course, it was as early as the fifth minute when Pompey suffered a triple blow as Edmonton netted a goal which proved so costly in so many ways.

Matt Lam tore down the left, exposing Ellis Martin, and his low cross was brilliantly crashed home by Chris Lemire.

The visitors were left to lick their wounds, literally for Stewart and Kilbey.

The keeper didn’t move after colliding with Joel Ward as he rushed out to close down Lemire, while Kilbey hobbled off with an injury to his right leg.

It took six minutes before play resumed as Stewart received extensive treatment before being taken to hospital in an ambulance for examination.

That prompted Liam O’Brien and Peter Gregory to enter the action, leaving just Perry Ryan on the bench.

Even he was going to get part of the action, though, when the defender replaced a limping Stephen Jordan early in the second half.

Already a goal down so early on, the Blues narrowly avoided falling further behind when Jordan clipped a backpass towards goal.

O’Brien reacted with an outstretched foot to deny what would have been an embarrassing moment.

Despite their inexperience, Edmonton were posing problems and Wilson tugged back Matt Lam on the half-hour mark and was booked.

By rights it should have been a red considering its professional foul connotations, but Wilson escaped.

From the resulting free-kick, Lemire curled it narrowly wide from 35 yards, although O’Brien had it covered.

Then came the equaliser on 38 minutes, and Pompey headed into the interval all square.

After the restart, Pompey continued to struggle to dismiss their lowly opposition and their frustration deepened on 68 minutes.

The Edmonton central defender jumped into his own keeper and, as the ball ricocheted around the penalty area, David Nugent produced a smart half volley into the roof of the net. However, Pompey’s celebrations were cut short as the referee incorrectly ruled for a foul.

Barely 10 minutes later, Nugent missed a glorious opportunity to score when Michael Brown’s quickly-taken free-kick sent him racing clear.

Yet, as in Ventura on four separate occasions, he failed to finish off the one-on-one opportunity.

Pompey continued to push on into the final 10 minutes and Ciftci and Ryan were both denied a goal by Rein Baart’s smart saves.

It was left for penalties to decide the winner, and with the score at 3-3, O’Brien brilliantly flung himself to his right to keep out Antonio Rago’s kick.

Michael Brown then netted and it was merely left for man-of-the-moment Ciftci to wrap up matters and seal the cup victory.

Suddenly there is something to cheer about. A minor, minor victory, granted. But a victory and a trophy nonetheless.