Pompey 2 Ipswich Town 1: Report

Gary Roberts wins a penalty. Picture: Joe Pepler
Gary Roberts wins a penalty. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Pompey gloriously grasped their second chance to inflict an FA Cup upset.

And Ipswich Town were finally bundled out of the competition at a bitterly cold Fratton Park.

Gary Roberts scores from the spot. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gary Roberts scores from the spot. Picture: Joe Pepler

Paul Cook’s side had come within an agonising two minutes of eliminating the Tractor Boys at Portman Road 10 days earlier.

Yet there was no such heartbreaking outcome last night as the Blues ensured the precious lead on this occasion would not be relinquished.

The victory was put into place during the first half, when Gary Roberts’ penalty and Marc McNulty’s header created a 2-0 advantage at the break.

Picking up where they left off against the Championship side, the hosts were once again dominant, dangerous and a credit to their manager.

The scoreline during that opening 45 minutes did not flatter against an opposition who curiously elected to make 11 changes for the third round replay.

All that remained was to safely see out the second part of the fixture to book a home clash with Bournemouth.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ brilliantly left-foot curling effort on the hour mark did at least reduce the deficit for the visitors, albeit against the run of play.

However, there were barely any other scares for Cook’s magnificent troops as they safely saw out a 2-1 result in front of a crowd of 15,179.

Granted, Mick McCarthy’s team were forced to see out the final 13 minutes with 10 men following Piotr Malarczyk’s second bookable offence.

Yet that numerical advantage should not be allowed to diminish Pompey’s superb performance in which they made light of two divisions below to claim a famous result.

Once again they went toe-to-toe with a Championship side, as in previous encounters with Derby County and Reading in cup competition this season.

And nobody present at Fratton Park last night could possibly deny they were worthy winners in a contest which again demonstrated the immense talent Cook has assembled.

Last season they were eliminated by non-league Aldershot – this time around they have removed a side sitting seventh in the Championship.

Cook made three changes to the Pompey’s previous starting line-up – that which faced Ipswich in the first encounter between the sides.

With Danny Hollands out with a broken leg, skipper Michael Doyle returned having been rested at Portman Road.

Elsewhere, Christian Burgess was available again following an ankle ligament injury and slotted into the centre of defence alongside Adam Webster.

That allowed Adam Barton to move to his more accustomed midfield role, leaving the back four to partner Doyle as the holding midfield pair, as Ben Close dropped out.

The third and final change involved Gareth Evans being recalled to operate on the right of the attacking three – with Adam McGurk moving to the bench to accommodate.

There was once again a youthful bench for the Blues, with Ben Tollitt, Conor Chaplin, Adam May and Close among them.

Kal Naismith was also named among the substitutes having recently returned from a loan spell at Hartlepool.

It was the winger’s first involvement in a Pompey squad since November 7 – the FA Cup first round victory over Macclesfield.

Once again Nigel Atangana and Matt Tubbs were not involved as their futures lie away from Fratton Park.

It took the Blues only three minutes to produce their first attempt on goal – with Kyle Bennett involved.

The winger collected a pass down the left to get inside Josh Emmanuel before poking a left-foot shot past the advancing keeper, only for the ball to run across the face of goal.

McNulty picked up the loose ball and attempted to turn it back in towards a team-mate yet succeeded only in finding an opponent.

Ipswich’s response was immediate, Doyle attempting to steer a head back towards his own keeper only for Brett Pitman to intercept.

The striker lobbed the onrushing Brian Murphy only for the ball to land safely on the top of the net, much to the Fratton end’s relief.

Malarczyk picked up the first booking of the game when he bodychecked McNulty as the striker attempted to burst through into the penalty area.

Roberts took the resulting free-kick, striking the ball and winning a corner, which ultimately came to nothing.

Overall it had been a bright start from the hosts, who were again looking the equal of their Championship opposition, roared on by the Fratton faithful.

On 18 minutes, Bennett fired in a shot from long range which flew well wide, yet once again demonstrated the attacking intentions of Cook’s side.

Next a magnificent cross from Ben Davies down the left appeared destined for Evans in the centre of the penalty area, only for Emmanuel to produce a timely covering header.

Pompey had their best chance yet on the half-hour mark in a delightful move instigated by Evans chasing back and winning the ball.

Barton took over, clipping a pass forward for McNulty, who burst through on goal and his shot was blocked by Bartosz Bialkowski.

Within a minute, however, Cook’s side had earned themselves a penalty.

Roberts tumbled inside the box while fighting for the ball with Malarczyk and referee Andy Woolmer awarded a foul in front of the Milton end.

It was Roberts who took it, Bialkowski diving the wrong way but still sticking out a right-hand to parry the shot, only for the ball to find the bottom corner of the net.

On 37 minutes the hosts had doubled the lead, created by a world-class delivery from the right from Evans.

The midfielder produced quick feet and delivered a deep cross to the far post where McNulty rose to plant the easiest of headers past Bialkowski.

The 2-0 lead remained to the half-time whistle as the League Two outfit returned to the dressing rooms with a deserved lead.

Within minutes of the restart, McNulty should have increased Pompey’s lead further following a delightful move down the right with Evans in the thick of it.

The forward found himself clean through with just Bialkowski to beat only for the keeper to pull off a point-blank stop and then McNulty half-volleyed a follow-up over the bar.

Minutes later, Bennett was brought down on the left and Roberts pulled the ball back for Doyle to strike a fierce effort from long distance which flashed just past the post.

Still the Blues pushed forward and when Enda Stevens released Evans down the middle on 55 minutes the midfielder fired a right-footed effort wide of the target.

Completely against the run of play Ipswich had themselves a consolation on the hour mark, Maitland-Niles curling home a tremendous left-foot shot from 25 yards.

Regardless, it was subsequently normal service from the hosts, who continued to dictate play against their opposition from leagues above.

Ipswich were reduced to 10 men on 77 minutes when Malarczyk clipped Roberts from behind, earning a second yellow card.

McCarthy’s side did rally, in fairness, aided by four minutes of time added on to provide tantalising hope.

Yet they still barely offered anything and Pompey comfortably booked their place at home to Bournemouth in the fourth round.