Cardiff 2 Pompey 1: Nel Allen’s match report

A Sean Morrison own goal gives Pompey the lead. Picture: Joe Pepler
A Sean Morrison own goal gives Pompey the lead. Picture: Joe Pepler
Southend boss Chris Powell Picture: PA Images

The Insider: Southend look a different side since Powell’s appointment

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If Kenny Jackett ever needed educating, last night he learnt of the heart his Pompey playing squad possesses.

Gutsy, committed and determined – this was the Blues at their belligerent best.

At the home of Championship outfit Cardiff in the first round of the Carabao Cup, the visitors were every inch as impressive over 120 gruelling minutes.

Indeed, Jackett’s men even took a 32nd-minute lead when Sean Morrison put Kal Naismith’s cross past his own keeper during a magnificent opening half for Pompey.

It was substitute Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, a one-time Blues loanee, who restored parity at the start of the second half to ease the nerves among the home faithful.

And it took another Pompey old boy, Greg Halford, to settle matters 2-1 in the Bluebirds’ favour during the second half of extra-time.

In truth, the hosts were looking increasingly likely to score by that stage, yet continued to be thwarted by the tireless visitors, led by brilliant defensive resilience and the industrious Danny Rose.

Those 851 travelling supporters, who incessantly chanted throughout, made their warm appreciation of their team known at the final whistle.

As for Jackett, having made three changes to the side which beat Rochdale at the weekend, he will have been proud how the League One side performed in the Cardiff City Stadium.

Home-grown duo Brandon Haunstrup and Adam May had both been called into the side and handed the opportunity to impress for the occasion.

With Tareiq Holmes-Dennis out with a knee injury, Haunstrup was chosen at left-back, while May replaced Carl Baker in the centre of midfield.

Kal Naismith’s inclusion completed the three changes, last season’s leading scorer replacing Conor Chaplin to work with Brett Pitman.

However, Jamal Lowe was missing as he serves the first of a three-match ban following Saturday’s red card.

Intriguingly, Jackett target Stuart O’Keefe was named in the centre of midfield against his suitors.

The visitors started confidently, spreading the ball around, playing short, sharp passes whenever possible, while Cardiff chased. It was excellent, composed football from Jackett’s men as they patiently probed away seeking an early breakthrough.

Yet it was Warnock’s men to created the first opportunity, Danny Ward swivelling to fire in a shot from outside the box which deflected for the first corner of the encounter.

On 19 minutes, Kyle Bennett flashed a right-foot shot narrowly past the post after finding room just inside the penalty area.

At the other end, on 32 minutes, Matty Kennedy delivered a cross from the right which was met with a powerful header from Ward straight at Luke McGee.

Seconds later, though, Pompey took the lead in fortunate circumstances.

Naismith delivered a dangerous cross from the left, yet nobody could have anticipated Morrison sliding the ball into his own net with no-one near him.

The Blues players all went over to congratulate Naismith for his role in proceedings, while Cardiff’s skipper cut a forlorn figure.

Naismith then had furious appeals for a penalty ignored as he tried to retain possession of Drew Talbot’s cross from the right.

With half-time approaching, there was a scare for the visitors when Halford’s long throw from the right missed everybody in a packed box and took a nick for a corner.

On 44 minutes, Pitman’s deep ball forward was met by Evans ahead of Murphy, only for the keeper to push the Pompey player over while running away from goal, earning a booking.

The resulting free-kick was laid off to Rose, whose first-time left-foot shot was straight at the former Pompey keeper as the scoreline remained 1-0 at half-time.

At the interval, the anonymous Anthony Pilkington was replaced by Mendez-Laing.

Within seconds of the restart, a powerful header from Bruno Ecuele Manga was somehow kept out by McGee.

The Blues keeper arched backwards and managed to push the effort against his crossbar before it was hooked away by Talbot.

But on 47 minutes the leveller did arrive – through Mendez-Laing.

A cross was delivered from the left and it found its way to the substitute at the far post, who took his time before crashing home the equaliser.

It was a different Cardiff after the break, although Bennett did see a 54th-minute shot from the edge of the box pushed around the post by Murphy.

Pompey brought on Nicke Kabamba for Naismith in the 65th minute as Jackett attempted to freshen things up.

However, McGee was then sharply off his line to close down the onrushing Kennedy after more good work from Mendez-Laing, who threaded a pass into the danger zone.

Cardiff were applying more pressure and on 78 minutes Kennedy had a golden opportunity to net, only to head a delivery from the right the wrong side of the near post.

Pompey staged a rare attack seven minutes from time when Evans’ angled shot from the right was finger-tipped around the post brilliantly by Murphy.

The match remained 1-1 and entered extra-time.

Substitute Junior Hoilett drew an early save from McGee with an angled shot.

Soon afterwards, he overpowered Kabamba in Pompey’s penalty area and his angled right-foot shot was beaten out by the outstretched foot of keeper McGee.

Then in the 112th minute, a corner arrived from the right and there was Halford to crash home a right-footed shot into the net.

The right-back chose not to celebrate out of respect to his former side – yet that sealed their exit from the cup competition.