FRASER SPARES IPSWICH’S BLUSHES
PORTSMOUTH almost dumped Championship high-flyers Ipswich out of the FA Cup but assistant manager Leam Richardson was simply pleased to see them put on a show for the travelling support.
Conor Chaplin looked to have given League Two Pompey a deserved win in the 86th minute after Tommy Oar and the excellent Kyle Bennett had shared goals within 90 breathless seconds.
But just two minutes before the end, a deep free-kick from out wide by Ryan Fraser was misjudged by the under-pressure Brian Murphy and ended up in the far corner to earn Ipswich a scarcely-deserved replay.
Richardson said: “Ipswich are doing very well in their league and they have an excellent manager with some excellent players.
“Like with them, the league is our bread and butter. But we will look forward to a replay, our fans will look forward to a great match at Fratton Park, and it will be good for the club financially.
“We gave a very good account of ourselves. We came here to win the game. We know it is expensive to watch football. I have kids and it can cost £100-plus to take them, so we think it is important to put on a good performance.” Portsmouth dominated proceedings – as the startling 74 per cent possession stats at half-time perfectly illustrated – and were a credit to both the footballing philosophy of the management team and the 2,500 away fans who followed them to Suffolk. Their only fault in an assured display came in front of goal with both Gary Roberts and Marc McNulty guilty of fluffing their lines in the first half.
With the Ipswich fans growing restless, they finally had something to cheer in the 51st minute when Oar scored his first goal in Town colours, netting the rebound after Murphy had blocked from Brett Pitman. But Portsmouth wasted little time in restoring parity, Roberts and McNulty having more joy as providers to tee up Bennett for a well-executed equaliser.
Both sides threw numbers forward to try and avoid an extra game and Chaplin thought he had won it for Portsmouth when he found the bottom corner with a powerful shot from distance.
But Fraser had other ideas in the 88th minute even if his lack of celebration suggested his free-kick was meant to be of the penetrating cross variety rather than the direct goal.
Tractor Boys boss Mick McCarthy, who prematch admitted he didn’t want a replay, said: “I wanted that result on 88 minutes when we were losing 2-1. At that point, I didn’t want to lose the game.
“I think they probably deserved to win – I thought they were excellent. I was relieved to go in at half-time 0-0 though I did think we were better in the second half.
“It was disappointing to concede almost straight after scoring but it was testimony to my players that we kept going and didn’t get beat.We were below par but they are one of the better League Two teams and they have a lot of quality.”