Pompey 1 Accrington 0: Blues steel key to cup progress

Marc McNulty impressed in Pompey's 1-0 win over Accrington Picture: Joe Pepler
Marc McNulty impressed in Pompey's 1-0 win over Accrington Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey’s defensive steel has been lauded after they snuffed out ‘free-scoring’ Accrington Stanley.

Paul Cook’s side progressed to the third round of the FA Cup for the first time in three years on Saturday.

It’s pleasing for staff and players when you work on certain things during the week and they replicate it on a Saturday.

Leam Richardson

Adam McGurk’s sixth goal of the season gave his team a 1-0 win and put them in the hat for the third round.

Pompey picked up their third clean sheet in five games to ensure they will be in the hat for tonight’s draw.

That came against a side who sit above them in the League Two table, who have been scoring goals for fun.

Stanley have bagged 13 goals in their past four games and hit the back of the net 20 times in their past seven outings.

But Pompey snuffed out their threat – and that was one of the big plus points for assistant manager, Leam Richardson.

Richardson said: ‘Credit to the back four – they have come up against a good attacking side in Accrington who are scoring a lot of goals and are in free-scoring form.

‘They’ve kept a clean sheet against them.

‘It’s pleasing for staff and players when you work on certain things during the week and they replicate it on a Saturday.

‘It came off. That’s not always the case, but when it does it’s pleasing.’

Pompey made two changes from the team which picked up a 2-2 draw against Wycombe Wanderers last weekend.

One was enforced as Gareth Evans came in for the suspended Caolan Lavery.

The other saw Matt Clarke given his first start since the win at Cambridge United on October 10.

He came in for Christian Burgess who has played every league game so far this season.

Richardson said: ‘Burge has played every minute of every game and training session.

‘We thought it was a good opportunity for Clarke to come in and have a game.

‘Now that Whatmough is coming back we have four very good and young centre-halves at the club who are willing to learn and listen.

‘Matt’s certainly had a good start and Ipswich have a very good player.

‘If he continues in the manner they think and we think he’ll have a good career.’

The clash proved a hard-fought encounter, which was in danger of boiling over in the second half.

Marc McNulty was involved in a running battle with Stanley defender Tom Davies, with some committed tackles flying in.

Tempers became frayed on the full-time whistle with staff and players involved in a flare-up, and Stanley assistant manager, Jimmy Bell, at the heart of the incident.

Richardson felt that reflected the desire shown on both sides.

He said: ‘I’ve got loads of friends at Accrington. It’s a great club with great people there.

‘I enjoyed my time growing up and learning there.

‘It was a bit spicy, but that’s just because people are desperate to win and go through to the third round of the cup.

‘They are good ties and in my short career I’ve had a taste of that.

‘Once you’ve had a taste of that you want to get there again and again.

‘Hopefully we can do that here.’