Portsmouth should be spurred on after testing mettle against Championship opposition in FA Cup

The FA Cup run is over, the dream of a return to Wembley put paid to.

Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 11:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 10:11 pm
Pompey can be encouraged after mixing it with Championship sides in the FA Cup. Picture: Joe Pepler

Albeit there’s still the chance to go to the national stadium in the Checkatrade Trophy, but large sections of the Fratton faithful will eschew that opportunity if Pompey defeat Bury in the semi-finals later this month.

Nevertheless, a run to the fourth round is nothing to be scoffed at.

In fact, a fair few supporters would have taken it before a ball was kicked.

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And reaching the last 32 has provided Kenny Jackett’s side with a yardstick of what they could expect next season.

Despite their fall from the League One automatic promotion places, the Blues are still very much targeting a place in the Championship.

Pompey played three matches in the FA Cup against second-tier outfits – all giving them an idea of what to possibly expect next term.

The victory at Norwich can certainly be regarded as an upset.

Second in the Championship v top of League One at the time did battle – and it was the latter who prevailed.

Granted, the Canaries played a much-weakened side at Carrow Road but there was still a number of established second-tier performers on show.

The hosts’ composure on the ball at the back and sophisticated formation with their full-backs pressing high underlined the sort of quality top Championship sides possess.

Pompey soaked up the pressure that day, however, and blunted a potent Canaries attack.

That handed the Blues the opportunity to hit the hosts on the break, with Andre Green’s stoppage-time winner sending the away end into ecstasy.

Next up came QPR, an underwhelming tie when the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham were still in the hat.

However, for the Blues’ long-term plan, it was the best side to draw.

Steve McClaren’s side are mid-table in the second tier and that’s where they look like they’ll end the season.

At Fratton Park, Pompey more than matched their opponents in the second period and could possibly have snatched a win.

The replay was, however, a tepid performance from the Blues.

The Blues lacked attacking creativity, a dearth of spark to break through the Rangers’ rearguard when they did manage to get into the final third.

The fact the visitors mustered their first shot on target with two minutes remaining at Loftus Road conveys it was an easy night for the home defence.

In truth, only Oli Hawkins gave Rangers’ back line anything to worry about.

And while Craig MacGillivray was rarely tested in the Pompey goal, QPR's movement from set-pieces tormented the visitors.

Both Naki Wells and Matt Smith’s goals stemmed from dead-ball scenarios.

Darnell Furlong also headed against the crossbar from a corner in the first half.

So now it’s all back to League One focus for Pompey and a huge three months are ahead.

But the Cup run has provided them with a taste of what potentially is to come – and should spur them on.