Pompey 6 - Leicester 1

Oli Hawkins. Picture: Joe Pepler

Hawkins prompts Pompey transfer rethink

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He did say it was coming. Steve Cotterill did promise that a side would face a tonking if his troops continued to carve out the chances and play with the spirit they had this season.

Through their winless start to the campaign, especially over recent weeks, it was the displays before his eyes that gave the Pompey boss hope.

Last night hapless Leicester were handed that no-holds-barred thrashing by the rampant Blues – and then some.

On a night where, for once, it all went right, Cotterill’s battlers dished out a footballing lesson to their punch-drunk opponents.

Everywhere you looked things were blazing bright all of a sudden after the darkness.

Pompey had jumped out of the bottom three for the first time this season before today’s games. There was David Nugent ending his woes in front of goal with his first of the league campaign.

There were new boys Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson showing why their manager chased them so hard as they both grabbed a double apiece.

There was Pompey playing the kind of football Cotterill thought they would when they got their noses in front.

And there were his team racking up the club’s biggest win since Leeds were thumped by the same 6-1 scoreline in November 2003.

The game told little of what lay ahead as Pompey made a busy but unspectacular start.

Both managers were out on the edge of their technical areas early on with a tracksuited Cotterill stressing a message to his midfield.

There were plenty of spaces among the Fratton Park crowd on a chilly night but the home fans were making themselves known as their team started at a decent tempo.

Michael Brown was at his tempestuous best and made his impression as he thundered in twice on Yuki Abe, the second time illegally.

It was encouraging stuff from the home side, though, and they were given their reward for an enterprising start when they took the lead after 10 minutes.

It was something of a gift for the Blues as well, as Joel Ward’s foray down the right won a corner and Leicester defender Michael Morrison inexplicably handballed Lawrence’s delivery.

Referee Keith Hill had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Lawrence was the man to step up and send Conrad Logan the wrong way.

That strike had the chimes ringing out around Fratton Park but Leicester promptly carved out a clear chance of their own.

Lloyd Dyer, so impressive in Tuesday’s Carling Cup win for his side, beat Ward down the left and cut back for Steve Howard as he reached the byline but the striker poked his shot wide from six yards.

Much of the talk this week has been about Milan Mandaric’s next move after selling most of his stake in Leicester.

Pompey fans were making their thoughts known about their former owner as they sung his name.

They had their hearts in their mouths moments later, though, as Andy King fired home from just inside the box but he was rightly pulled up for offside.

Their was a frenetic tempo to the game as it swung back and forth and next it was Pompey’s chance to go close as David Nugent thumped a shot at Logan from 25 yards

Pompey twice went close to adding a second after 22 minutes when Mokoena’s hopeful free-kick fell to Lawrence 25 yards out but his vicious drive was well saved by Logan.

Then Mokoena himself acrobatically volleyed over Carl Dickinson’s free-kick as the Blues continued to push for a second.

Martyn Waghorn then tried his luck from 30 yards but his shot fizzed just wide.

Ricardo Rocha was the first Pompey booking for a foul on Abe after 29 minutes.

But referee Hill made a much bigger intervention 120 seconds later as Leicester were reduced to 10 men and Pompey got a crucial second.

Nugent’s hard running was the catalyst as he got in behind the visitors’ defence and Miguel Vitor hauled him to the ground.

Hill was right on the mark and made the right decision to send off the defender for a professional foul.

Things promptly got much better though, as Lawrence stepped up and fired the free-kick past Logan with the aid of a heavy deflection off Bruno Berner.

That sent Pompey fans and players alike into a frenzy as the wideman was mobbed after scoring his third Pompey goal against Leicester in 41 minutes of play, following his effort in Tuesday’s defeat.

The home dressing room would have been a buoyant place to be at the interval, after being in front at the break for the first time since the meeting with Reading.

But the manner in which the Blues restarted the game suggested Cotterill had stressed the importance of concentration.

That stoic approach was emphatically washed aside though, in three minutes of fantasy football 11 minutes after the break.

It all began with Dickinson, Mr Solid himself, almost scoring the goal of the season with an outrageous 40-yard chipped effort which had Logan beaten all hands down before skimming off the top of the crossbar.

If that raised the home fans’ heart rate, it went through the roof moments later as two goals in 60 seconds put them in dreamland – and how fitting Nugent was at the heart of both.

It was Kitson who found space to get off a shot which Logan could only push into the path of the Scouser, who first fired at the Leicester keeper before rolling home the rebound.

The goal took the roof of the Fratton end as Nugent danced a jig of delight at opening his league account.

The 25-year-old wasn’t finished there, though, as his renowned work-rate was rewarded straight from the kick-off as he badgered Morrison into giving up the ball and fed Kitson who coolly lifted the ball over Logan.

It was no more than Pompey deserved for their dominance and seeing Fratton Park in party mood after all the recent hardship suffered was gladdening.

A moment of sloppiness 19 minutes from time gave Leicester a consolation as Rocha got in a tangle with Brown, allowing Howard to poke home.

It was nothing more than an aberration, though, as the goal fest was emphatically resumed over the game’s finale.

The first came giftwrapped as Morrison played a Lawrence delivery straight into the path of Kitson, who gleefully accepted the present. What came next, however, was a fitting finale to a fantastic night.

Michael Brown was the man who stepped up with one of the best goals this famous, old ground has ever seen.

The midfielder picked up the ball 30 yards out and somehow waltzed through a wall of yellow shirts before calmly strolling around Logan and rolling the ball in from the tightest of angles.

A perfect ending to a magical night.