How Portsmouth's Cup win at Harrogate represented a first for the Blues this season

Pompey had more than progress into the next round of the FA Cup to celebrate on Monday night.

By Mark McMahon
Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 11:45 am
Pompey celebrate Brandon Haunstrup's equaliser against Harrogate  Picture: Daniel Chesterton
Pompey celebrate Brandon Haunstrup's equaliser against Harrogate Picture: Daniel Chesterton

The 2-1 victory at non-league Harrogate represented a first for the Blues this season and provided an important milestone as they bid to turn their season around – a come-from-behind win.

Up until the visit to north Yorkshire, Kenny Jackett’s first team had yet to overturn a deficit after conceding the first goal in a game this campaign.

A youthful, much-changed side struck back in the EFL Trophy at Oxford, after Matty Taylor had opened the scoring on 22 minutes at the Kassam Stadium, to secure a draw after 90 minutes and then victory on penalties.

However, such a turnaround had eluded Pompey in their main focus this season – League One – and in their three outings in the Carabao Cup.

Two draws were their best efforts up until the trip to Wetherby Road, where first-half efforts from Brandon Haunstrup and Ronan Curtis cancelled out Mark Beck’s seventh-minute opener and set up a second-round tie at home to Altrincham.

Those draws were both achieved at Fratton Park, with the Blues managing to earn points from early blows struck by both Coventry and Burton earlier this season.

The sharing of honours against the Brewers will have felt like a win back on September 17.

Nigel Clough’s sailed into a 2-0 lead after just six minutes following goals from Joe Sbarra (3 minutes) and Kieran Wallace (6).

But following the sending off of John-Joe O’Toole on 25 minutes, Pompey fought back through Ronan Curtis (39) and Brett Pitman’s 90th-minute penalty.

While there was relief at the end of that match, there was despair following the conclusion of events against the Sky Blues on August 20.

The hosts threw away a two-goal advantage, following Jordy Hiwula’s third-minute opener for Mark Robins’ side, and ended up drawing 3-3.

And that was despite Coventry playing the last 12 minutes with nine men, after both Fankaty Dabo (59) and Gervane Kastaneer (78) saw red.

In the other four games this season that have seen the opposition score first, the Blues have been unable to muster a reply.

The defeats against Shrewsbury, Wycombe, Southampton and Wimbledon all ended with Pompey thwarted in front of goal.

Yet there was little time left on the clock to fight back when both the Chairboys and Dons opened the scoring.

Both their openers and, ultimatley, match-winners came late on, with Adebayo Akinfenwa scoring from the spot on 82 minutes for Wycombe and Terell Thomas striking at Kingsmeadow on 90 minutes.

The only time this season Pompey have taken the lead and lost occurred at the Stadium of Light, when Marcus Harness’ 22nd-minute goal was wiped out by efforts from Sunderland duo Jordan Willis and Chris Maguire.

In total, the Blues have opened the scoring on 13 occasions this season in all competitions.

That has led to an impressive haul of nine victories, with only the games against Blackpool, Bristol Rovers and Oxford United ending in draws.