The “magic of the cup” is an event which every English football fan anticipates each season. Albeit not quite as fascinating an occasion as the FA Cup, the silverware so famously sponsored by the energy drink company Carabao, offers lower tier sides the opportunity to showcase their ability, as well as create a glimpse of a potentially career-enhancing spotlight for young players, often on national television. A classic upset in a domestic cup game is what we all desire, for our neutral viewing pleasure. Local rivals are often given the chance to reconvene on a stage they wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to grace, when playing in different leagues. We saw this last year, when local rivals Southampton came to Fratton Park in the 3rd round of this very competition. A joyous occasion for all, until the first goal went in. And the second. And the third and fourth. Yes, we all remember that Pompey lost against the one team which we shall not become inferior to. And lost 4-0, at that.
Now, new year, new Pompey. In the unprecedented, unpredictable and ever-changing time-vortex of a year that is 2020, what will the cup-draw gods have instore for us? A fixture against local Premier League rivals, again. This time from West Sussex, the might Brighton & Hove Albion. A chance to redeem last year’s result, and finally get the better of a Premier League side, and a local one at that, to have ourselves our very own “cup upset.”
Unfortunately, and unbearably, there was only 1 key difference between this and last year’s matchup against the Saints. This year’s Carabao Cup exit was handed to us in East Sussex, instead of Hampshire. The performances and more importantly, the score-line, were alike.
Portsmouth started the game with a very high line, forcing Curtis and Williams to effectively play as full-backs for the majority of the game, as the Seagulls held 63% possession, and subsequently controlled the game.
Ronan Curtis was once again the standout performer, in what can only be described as a lacklustre and predictable Kenny Jackett system. Chasing that potential career-enhancing spotlight, the Irishman was up and down the left flank where the majority of Pompey’s attacking threat was produced. Alongside his new down-the-line partner Cameron Pring, the duo gave Tariq Lamptey work to do.
In the 22nd minute, Raggett produced a sloppy back-pass to Craig MacGillivray, and subsequently the ball ended up at the feet of Pascal Gross. Jack Whatmough, who alongside Curtis, looked like one of the few Pompey players who felt somewhat comfortable on the night, bailed his centre-back partner out, by clearing the ball off the line to keep it 0-0.
And keep it 0-0 he did, but only for another 16 minutes, when Harness gave the ball away in midfield, and led Jahanbakhsh on his way down the right flank. The striker lobbed the ball into the box straight onto the head of MacAllister. The Argentine didn’t leave anything to chance, and tucked the ball away for the Seagulls lead.
The second goal came in the 54th minute, when Jahanbakhsh found himself in possession of the ball just outside of the penalty area. James Bolton, who’s performance did not impress on the night, could have done more to close down the Iranian striker, who pelted the ball into the roof of MacGillivray’s goal.
Corners were the only aspect of the game in which Portsmouth came out on top, as faint of a consolation as that it. It was however, the Seagulls, who managed to convert one of their sparse corner-kick’s into a goal, with the help of Bernardo, who redeemed himself after missing a convincing chance at open goal inside the first 5 minutes of the game.
The final nail in the hopes of a run in the Carabao Cup was hammered in by Viktor Gyokeres, who received the ball in the box as a knock-down from Bernardo, and proceeded to make a further ridicule of James Bolton, spinning the centre-back round to have a clear shot on goal and slot it away in the bottom left.
The game ended 4-0 to Brighton & Hove Albion, and our only glimmer of solace can be found in the reality that the Seagulls are putting on good performance in the Premier League. The first of which, when they showed respectable quality in their 3-1 loss to Chelsea, and then besting Newcastle to a comfortable 3-0 victory away from home.
Play Up Pompey, we don’t Carabao this cup anyway, we’re in the Leasing.com trophy final…