Basingstoke Town 0 Pompey 0: 5-4 pens - Neil Allen's verdict: Blues rely on penalties after scoring problems continue to blight

Pompey’s goal-scoring headache transferred itself to the Hampshire Senior Cup.

By Neil Allen
Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 10:00 pm
Pompey's Dan Gifford in action against Basingstoke Town in the Hampshire Senior Cup. Picture Stuart Martin (220421-7042)
Pompey's Dan Gifford in action against Basingstoke Town in the Hampshire Senior Cup. Picture Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

But at least Danny Cowley’s side found their scoring boots from the penalty spot as they tonight squeezed past Basingstoke Town 5-4 and into the third round.

The Blues’ head coach had named a strong side for the encounter at the Isthmian South-Central League side, with five first-team squad members starting alongside Academy youngsters.

They included Gassan Ahadme and Michael Jacobs, yet there was a familiar tale as Pompey struggled to carve out sufficient scoring opportunities.

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While the first-team have gone 357 minutes without finding the back of the net, this fixture also finished goalless.

It was then onto a penalty shoot-out to decide the winners, reaching sudden death.

Pompey’s seventh spot kick was finished by Harvey Hughes, with Alex Bass then saving from Aiden Lewis to secure victory at The Winklebury Stadium.

The Blues had named four of the starters from last week’s Papa John’s Trophy defeat at AFC Wimbledon.

Skipper Paul Downing, Connor Ogilvie, Gassan Ahadme and Jacobs were all in Cowley’s line-up against the non-leaguers.

They were joined by Bass, who missed out on that Plough Lane encounter through Covid.

The five senior players also played alongside Harry Jewitt-White and Alfie Bridgman, who have first-team experience in the EFL Trophy.

Others in the starting XI were Academy youngsters Harvey Hughes, Adam Payce, Dan Gifford and Izzy Kaba.

When the match got underway, an uneventful opening was livened up by a good atmosphere, in particular drums sounding among both sets of supporters.

On 18 minutes, a wonderful pass from deep by Jacobs picked out the run of Ahadme, whose shot was saved, but the striker was ruled out for off-side.

At the other end, Jacobs was caught in possession by Ben Cook and he slid a pass to Aiden Lewis, whose shot flashed narrowly wide of the far post.

McKoy Palmer then picked up the ball after Lewis had put in a strong challenge on Adam Payce and fired an attempt which took a nick for a corner.

It was goalless at half-time, with no substitutes introduced at the interval, but Basingstoke had the game’s best chance so far on 52 minutes.

Palmer cut in from the left and unleashed a fierce right-footed shot which was parried superbly by Bass.

Lloyd Snell attempted to follow up into an empty net, but Ogilvie produced a timely block to thwart him.

Pompey had their best opportunity of the night so far when Gifford found himself eight yards out, but his right-footed shot was superbly stopped by keeper Paul Strudley.

With 10 minutes remaining, Jacobs’ corner from the right was met with a running volley from Ogilvie inside the box which sailed over the bar when, in truth, he should have done far better.

It was onto penalties, with Ahadme, Jacobs, Gifford and Jewitt-White netting, while Studley saved from Downing and Bass.

Yet it was a goal from Blues youngster Hughes – and Bass’ save – which secured progress into the next round.

Pompey: Bass, Kaba, Downing, Ogilvie, Hughes, Jewitt-White, Payce, Bridgman (68 mins Setters), Gifford, Jacobs, Ahadme.

Subs Not Used: Steward, Spurway, Simpson, Howell.

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