Torquay United 0 Pompey 0 – Pompey win 5-3 on penalties

Yassin Moutaouakil nets his penalty to win the tie. Picture: Joe Pepler
Yassin Moutaouakil nets his penalty to win the tie. Picture: Joe Pepler
Nathan Thompson gets his marching orders from referee Lee Probert at Southend on Saturday

Thompson starts four-game Pompey ban

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Once more the issue of penalties dominated a Pompey fixture.

Only this time they went in Guy Whittingham’s side’s favour as the Blues squeezed into the second round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Pompey had four spot-kick appeals turned down and an irate David Connolly sent off in Saturday’s controversial defeat to Chesterfield.

At Plainmoor they were given five of them after a poor fixture which largely failed to entertain the 1,951 crowd finished goalless after 90 minutes.

With no extra-time, it went straight to a penalty shootout – and Yassin Moutaouakil emerged as the unlikely hero by netting the victory.

Earlier, goalscoring opportunities were a rarity, even if the game did spring to life in the final 15 minutes for both sides.

Aaron Downes chested Andy Barcham’s shot off the line, while Sonny Bradley’s far-post header was brilliantly saved by Martin Rice as the final whistle approached.

Perhaps it was only fair there was no winner during normal time, though.

That meant the fixture went to penalties.

Bradley, Jed Wallace, Ricky Holmes and Tom Craddock all netted with superbly-taken shots.

In response, Karl Hawley, Callum Ball and Dale Tonge scored for the Gulls, although Lee Mansell missed their third penalty.

It was left to Moutaouakil, wearing the captain’s armband after Johnny Ertl had earlier been substituted, to have the final say with a coolly-taken spot-kick.

The right-back calmly chipped the ball down the middle as Rice dived to his left and Pompey had their 5-3 victory.

Whittingham made two changes to the side who suffered defeat against high-flying Chesterfield.

David Connolly was serving the first of a three-match ban following his red card, while Patrick Agyemang was given a rest to recover from a slight knock.

That meant a first Blues start for Ryan Bird, following four appearances as a substitute.

He got the nod ahead of Tom Craddock and was asked to lead the line. Wallace also returned having been left out of that Spireites defeat.

The recall saw him occupy his familiar role on the right-hand side of midfield.

That allowed Whittingham to put Holmes in the hole behind lone striker Bird.

It gave the former Barnet man licence to roam following his impressive performance on Saturday in the clash with Chesterfield.

After the match got under way, Danny East brought down Jordan Chapell, in the fifth minute, to present the hosts with a free-kick in a dangerous position on their right.

However, the shot was driven against the head of Callum Ball, who was standing in front of the Pompey wall, and the moment had gone.

Whittingham’s men responded with a lovely move crafted by Barcham.

The talented former Scunthorpe winger surged down the left.

He then cut in before delivering a curling right-foot shot which Rice gathered above his head.

It was Damon Lathrope who would have the Gulls’ next attempt on goal, in the 13th minute.

He struck an effort from long range which drifted comfortably over the crossbar.

Moments later, Holmes was fouled down the right at the end of a flowing Blues move.

The midfielder took the free-kick himself and his delivery was headed straight at the keeper by powerful Blues centre-back Bradley at the far post.

The visitors were keeping up the pressure and Lathrope was on-hand to block Wallace’s goal-bound low drive before completing the heroics by hacking the ball clear.

Overall, however, there was little to entertain during the majority of the first half with rarely a flutter of genuine goalmouth action.

Pompey’s backline were certainly remaining patient when attempting to build from the back.

The players took plenty of touches as they waited for openings.

But there was very little occurring in front of them.

Wallace attempted to spark the Blues into life with a run and then clever clip into the box.

His effort was met by a Barcham half-volley which was deflected over for a corner.

As half-time approached, Bird was cleaned out as he prodded a ball through to Barcham.

And, with Pompey being given the advantage, the winger continued on but saw his shot closed down by Tonge.

Wallace then knocked the ball into the box but Bird’s touch let him down.

He should have done far better as a great opportunity went begging.

There were no substitutions for either side at the interval and the visitors came out of the blocks brightly again.

But the goal was still not coming.

On 61 minutes another excellent Holmes corner saw Bird rise highest with a powerful header which flew well over the top.

Wallace then drove through the heart of the Gulls’ defence and bore down on goal.

But he was denied by the excellent Krystian Pearce who cleaned up.

In the 68th minute Craddock came off the substitutes’ bench to replace Bird in attack.

Minutes later, Whittingham introduced Romain Padovani who replaced Johnny Ertl in midfield.

There was a scare in the 75th minute when Bradley stumbled and fell to the ground as he attempted to pass the ball back to Sullivan.

Fortunately the keeper was alert and got there ahead of Torquay striker Elliot Benyon to clear.

At the other end, Wallace threaded a pass through to Barcham who took the ball around the keeper only for Aaron Downes to chest it off the line.

Pompey threatened again with their next attack.

Holmes swung in a delightful ball from the right and Bradley was unmarked at the far post to power in a header which was somehow brilliantly turned over by Rice.

It was proving to be a lively end to the match and Sullivan managed to thwart substitute Daniel Sullivan from close range with a super save.

Then came the penalties – and Moutaouakil took his chance to crown himself a match-winner.