|FA Cup – Rnd 2|
|Portsmouth||1 – 0||Accrington Stanley|
Pompey saw off the challenge of Accrington to reach the third round of the FA Cup for the first time since they were relegated from the Championship in 2012.
Adam McGurk scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half to ensure the Blues would take their place in Monday evening’s draw.
The hosts were the more creative side throughout the contest and the impressive Marc McNulty also struck the woodwork.
Paul Cook made two changes from the side that picked up a point at Wycombe in the league the previous week.
One was enforced with Gareth Evans replacing the ineligible Caolan Lavery, while Christian Burgess made way for Matt Clarke.
The tie was slow to get into gear, with the strong winds swirling around Fratton Park making life difficult for both sides.
Pompey were first to fashion an opening on seven minutes when Ben Davies delivered a free-kick that was diverted narrowly over by McNulty.
Michael Doyle then sent a shot flying inches past the post after Enda Stevens’ cut the ball back to him on the edge of the box.
But, in truth, it was not a cup clash that was providing much entertainment value for those who braved the cold.
There was plenty of warmth generated when the Blues broke the deadlock on 21 minutes, however.
Davies released McNulty down the right and although Kyle Bennett missed the striker’s low cross, McGURK arrived at the far post to slam the ball home.
Pompey suddenly looked a real threat every time they ventured forward to take on the Stanley defence.
McNulty almost doubled the advantage after racing onto Bennett’s pass, only to see his shot roll agonisingly wide of the post.
The on-loan Sheffield United striker went even closer on 33 minutes when he headed Davies’ free-kick against the crossbar.
Accrington then enjoyed a spell of pressure in the Pompey half, with Billy Kee sending a couple of efforts wide.
But their best chance arrived on 43 minutes, when Tom Davies met Sean McConville’s free-kick and the ball landed on the roof of the net.
Half Time: Pompey 1 Accrington 0
Pompey immediately set about trying to extend their lead when the game restarted and they forged a decent opening on 49 minutes.
The lively McNulty was eventually stopped after skipping past three challenges and Danny Hollands sent the loose ball flying just past the post.
But that did not herald a period of sparkling excitement as the game soon settled into a scrappy encounter.
Jason Mooney did make a regulation save low to his left to keep out Bennett’s 25-yard effort on 62 minutes.
But the Accrington keeper then almost handed the hosts a goal when his poor clearance found McNulty.
He in turn played the ball to McGurk, who was denied his second of the afternoon by Mooney’s trailing leg.
The second half – just like the first did – had now burst into life and Mooney was called into action again to keep out McNulty’s effort.
There was not too much happening at the other end of the pitch, although Brian Murphy was equal to Joe Wright’s volley on 70 minutes.
But Pompey were soon back on the attack and a long-range Bennett attempt almost caught out Mooney.
Cook made a switch on 75 minutes, with McGurk leaving to a standing ovation and Jayden Stockley coming on for his first appearance in more than two months.
There was then a stoppage when referee Kevin Johnson hurt his knee and had to be treated by Blues physio Sean Duggan – although the official did not receive much sympathy from the Fratton faithful.
He was able to carry on for a few more minutes before eventually being replaced by linesman Brett Huxtable.
That meant there were seven minute of stoppage-time displayed and Accrington sensed the opportunity to earn a replay.
But the Blues nervously saw out the closing stages – with Murphy saving Terry Gornell’s close-range header – to secure their progress and join the Premier League big boys in the third round draw.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, McGurk (Stockley 75), Bennett (Burgess 90+5); McNulty (Chaplin 90+3)
Goals: McGurk 21
Booked: Webster, McNulty, Davies
Subs not used: Bass, Haunstrup, Barton, Boco
Accrington (4-2-3-1): Mooney; Halliday, Davies, Wright, Pearson; Barry (Buxton 67), Crooks (c); Mingoia (McCartan 76), Windass (Gornell 83), McConville; Kee
Booked: Halliday, Wright, Kee
Subs not used: Etheridge, Wakefield, Procter, Conneely
Referee: Kevin Johnson (Brett Huxtable 89)
Attendance: 9,258 (158 away fans)