In what was one of the biggest games at Fratton Park in almost a decade, Kenny Jackett opted for a surprise alteration to the lineup ahead of the 5th Round Emirates FA Cup clash against Arsenal. Regulars Curtis, Naylor and Raggett were dropped in favour of Harness, Close and Bolton. Andy Cannon and John Marquis were also amongst the 5 changes made by Kenny Jackett ahead of the clash against the Premier League side.
Steve Seddon returned to the line-up after starting the game against Rochdale on the bench, but quickly becoming a super-sub through scoring one and later setting up a goal for Christian Burgess in less than 30 minutes on the field.
James Bolton made his mark on the game, and subsequently on Lucas Torreira in the 14th minute when the Pompey right-back chased a through ball down the line and took out the Uruguayan in what seemed a fair but rough challenge. The referee saw nothing wrong and the Pompey man was not cautioned however, the defensive-midfielder had to depart the pitch on a stretcher, being replaced by Real Madrid loanee, Dani Ceballos.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos opened the scoring in the 4th minute of added time at the end of the first half. Reiss Nelson swung in a corner on the right side which was cleared out of the area by Burgess. The danger however was not over as Dani Ceballos distributed the ball back out to the un-marked corner taker, giving the Arsenal academy graduate a second chance to put in a dangerous ball. This time picking out Sokratis at the near post, the Greek centre-half slotted the ball away past Bass to give the North Londoners a lead just before the break.
Ronan Curtis made a visible impact on the game after entering the field early on in the second half, and gave Sokratis a little more work to do down the left flank to contain the Irishman.
Ultimately, Pompey weren’t able to make the difference in the second half and in turn, The Gunners cemented their place in the 6th Round of the Emirates FA Cup by making it 2 – 0 on the night. Reiss Nelson doubled his assists tally when he sprinted past Steve Seddon and provided a timely cross in for Eddie Nketiah, who ran inbetween James Bolton and Christian Burgess, leaving the Pompey centre-half’s hopeless when slotting the ball past Bass at the near post to give The Gunners a two goal advantage.
My Man of the Match: James Bolton. Proved that once again can be relied on in the centre-half positions, and made some important blocks in the defensive half despite the result.
My Photo of the Match: A double-whammy for James Bolton, but Dave Taylor’s photograph of the challenge to dispossess Lucas Torreira is very timely. Of course, we wish Lucas a speedy recovery from any injury he sustained during the game.