Date: 9th January 2016 at 6:12pm
Written by:

I am not complaining about this result because Portsmouth thoroughly deserved to get something out of this third round FA Cup tie at Portman Road.

I am also not complaining about the team selection because this was not at all like the Manchester United debacle when Mick McCarthy gave no forewarning of the team he would select and consequently it was essentially a youth squad.

This was not the case today. The players our manager choose were – with the exception perhaps of Digby, all recognized squad players with a lot of experience. We must not forget too that he also played Knudsen, Chambers, Skuse, Pitman and Ainsley Maitland- Niles so this is what squad rotation should be all about.

Portsmouth played well from the start and throughout and the fact that they had 68 percent of possession away from home is testament to their ability and desire to ruffle a few feathers.

In fact, it looked as if we would be going out of the competition in its infancy once again when Conor Chaplin unleashed a left foot drive into the net just four minutes from time.

The new Town line up, which fielded seven changes from the recent Burnley match found it very difficult to gel.

It was almost as if they had never met before, such was the lack of cohesion on display but I suspect this was precisely why manager Mick McCarthy picked them in the first place and that is because they are all in desperate need of some game time!

Tommy Oar was probably the star performer in the early stages and it was he who finally put the blues in front after 53 minutes when he reacted quickest to a Luke Varney strike but within two minutes Portsmouth were deservedly back on terms through Kyle Bennett.

Bartosz Bialkowski was made to work hard all afternoon and made some outstanding saves, as Pompey tried to avoid a replay with some positive play deep into the Town half.

Their counter-attacking style was excellent and so too was their ability to pick out a pass. It would have been very cruel on the vocal visiting supporters if they had not taken something from this game and on reflection a draw was probably a fair result.

Manager Mick McCarthy even hinted afterwards that if he had been the head coach of Portsmouth, he would have been gutted with a draw, given their ascendency throughout the game and in the end Town were grateful for a draw.

This was only achieved because of some shrewd substitutions and the introduction of Ryan Fraser certainly made a significant difference, when his free-kick beat everyone to find the far corner two minutes after Portsmouth had taken the lead.

Whether the Tractor Boys really deserved a replay is open to debate but it does give our fridge players another chance to gel and another chance of progressing to round four.

Frank Weston – editor of Vital Ipswich


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