Your average cup of tea usually spends longer in the cup than Plymouth Argyle do, for whom most seasons a cup game means little more than just making up the numbers before doing our customary exit in the first round.
But not this season.
It goes to show how dreadful our record really is in the League Cup (only 36 wins from 130 games prior to this fixture), when many Argyle fans were forecasting that we would lose to Portsmouth. A club who were forced to field a team full of teenagers and their first team coach in order to fulfill the fixture due to their ongoing administration.
With the game being announced as a special ‘fans re-united’ fixture by the Argyle club president a week before, some were worried that the consoling feelings of the Argyle fans would spread onto the pitch and allow the young Blues to beat Argyle, but that was far from the case. Before the 15 minute mark had been passed Simon Eastwood, the Pompey goalkeeper, had already narrowly kept out an ambitious Gorman shot and produced a stunning save to deny Matt Lecointe.
As the half progressed it seemed to become a matter of simply when Argyle would break the deadlock. The home side were dominating the possession but, to the young Pompey defences credit, created only a few clear cut chances. There were goalmouth scrambles aplenty every time an Argyle ball was crossed into the box where the sea of Blue meeting the crosses where working on a ‘when in doubt, give it a clout’ policy. Only some last ditch defending denied Matt Lecointe and Nick Chadwick shots on goal from close range.
It was just when it looked as if Pompey would hold on to go into the break level that Argyle scored, and what a goal it was. Paul Wotton played a neat through ball to Johnny Gorman on the left wing who raced towards the box. Instead of crossing if though, Gorman opted to put his foot through the ball and hammer it straight across goal into the side of the net from some way out. His finish would not have looked out of place in the Premier League.
Portsmouth, as expected, came out of their shell in the second half as they looked for an unlikely equaliser. Although they had a lot more possession than they did in the first half they very rarely threatened Argyle’s goal, as the experience in the Pilgrims defence gave them a clear edge over their rookie opponents. Adam Webster went closest for the team from Hampshire, firing a long range effort just wide in front of 700 Pompey fans.
You always felt that a second Argyle goal was on the way however, and with just three minutes to go it arrived. A Conor Hourihane corner found Maxime Blanchard at the back post who headed it across goal for debutant Paris Cowan-Hall to nod home his first goal for the club.
Within two minutes it was three as Joe Lennox found space on the right wing to cross the ball in to Chadwick who took a touch to set himself before smashing it past the hapless Eastwood.
3-0 seemed quite a harsh scoreline on a Pompey side who really gave it their all on the night, when it would have been easier for them to just roll over after Appleton stated before the game he would not criticse any of them. On the balance of play though, it was a fair result.
So into the second round we go, for only the third time in the last 21 years. We all left Home Park dreaming of a tie against one of the bigger premier league clubs that enter in the second round, Aston Villa or Everton, for example. The dreams were not realised though, and the draw for us on first sight is a bit of a stinker; Burnley away. On reflection though, it’s not so bad. We have a half chance to win this game and if we do then who knows? Manchester United coming down to Home Park? It could happen…
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