A night to remember on the south coast
Portsmouth 1 Wycombe Wanderers 3
Vital Wycombe would like to thank guest writer Dale Jenkins for the following report.
It may 'only` have been the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy, and it may be rightly considered as less important than other competitions this season. However this does not detract from what was a marvellous away performance from the Wanderers at Fratton Park last night.
Playing a side a division higher, with a sprinkling of talented players signed on month-long contracts, Gareth Ainsworth made six changes to the starting line up from the win over Torquay. Ainsworth rested himself, Gary Doherty, Leon Johnson, Stuart Lewis and Matt McClure while Jordan Archer`s loan expired. In came the fit-again Nikki Bull, Anthony Stewart, Dave Winfield, new signing Bruno Andrade, Matt Spring and Dean Morgan, fresh from his match-winning assist on Saturday.
Wanderers opened the scoring after just 13 seconds with Portsmouth not even touching the ball. Spring and Kuffour combined to release Joel Grant down the left wing. The tricky wide man then cut inside before curling a sublime effort into the far corner, giving Eastwood no chance in the Pompey net.
Just a minute later Morgan, who had made a lively start, fired one over the bar and Josh Scowen also warmed the goalkeeper`s gloves. Kuffour then struck a curling effort against the post when he really should have scored after waltzing through the defence.
It was almost too good to be true after 8 minutes when Wycombe doubled their lead. A huge goalmouth scramble saw Kuffour have two efforts blocked at point-blank range before Morgan finally forced the ball in despite Jon Harley handling his effort on the line.
Portsmouth began to enjoy more possession but were struggling to get shots away and Wycombe continued to look dangerous on the counter with Kuffour bending a stunning effort onto the post with Eastwood rooted to the spot.
A Gabor Gyepes header was tipped over the bar by Nikki Bull, and Izale McLeod also tested the keeper after showing Anthony Stewart a clean pair of heels. Then, into injury time, disaster struck. The linesman incorrectly ruled a throw-in Portsmouth`s way, a cross came in and Nikki Bull saved the initial effort. The ball broke loose to Stewart who scuffed his clearance and McLeod turned sharply and fired into the roof of the net to give the hosts a lifeline.
The pressure was cranked up at the start of the second half as Portsmouth tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck. After a few hairy moments however, Wycombe were given the ideal opportunity to reassert their two goal cushion. Andrade, impressing on the wing, coaxed a silly challenge out of the defender on the edge of the box. It looked soft, but the away supporters didn`t care. Morgan`s initial penalty was saved well by Eastwood but the striker readjusted superbly to nod in the rebound, sparking jubilant scenes in the away end.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of the hosts, who soon began to run out of ideas. The odd opening was dealt with excellently by the defence, led by the outstanding Dave Winfield who made a number of vital blocks and last-ditch headers.
In fact Wycombe could have had a fourth as Morgan had the ball in the net again, only for it to be ruled out for a push on a defender.
This was an excellent all-round performance and it is hard to pick out individuals. However, Dave Winfield deserves extra credit for his best performance in many a month, whilst Josh Scowen was again a bundle of spirit and energy. Up front, Morgan & Kuffour gave the Pompey defence a torrid time and Wycombe finally look like a team capable of scoring goals with the confidence to match.
Ratings: Bull 8, Foster 7, Winfield 9, Stewart 7, Dunne 8, Andrade 7, Spring 7, Scowen 8, Grant 7, Kuffour 8 (Morias n/a), Morgan 9*