Bournemouth 1 Pompey 0

Eunan O'Kane smashes the ball past Pompey goalkeeper Phil Smith and into the back of the net to give Bournemouth victory in the Capital One Cup at Dean Court  Picture: Joe Pepler
Eunan O'Kane smashes the ball past Pompey goalkeeper Phil Smith and into the back of the net to give Bournemouth victory in the Capital One Cup at Dean Court Picture: Joe Pepler

Not quite the goal avalanche some feared – not quite the defensive capitulation witnessed only days earlier.

Granted, Pompey suffered defeat at Bournemouth last night, ensuring they have not emerged from the first round of the league cup in each of the past three seasons.

During that time they have failed to even score a goal, with losses against Barnet, Plymouth and now the Cherries.

Still, taking into account the concerns thrown up on the opening day of the season, there was enough for Blues followers to be encouraged by at Dean Court.

With six changes to the side who slipped to such a disappointing defeat to Oxford on the opening day of their League Two campaign, Guy Whittingham had freshened things up.

In particular, there were alterations to that creaking back five – two in total, plus Joe Devera being made captain and swapping centre-half for the right-back berth.

Certainly, it was an improvement.

Debutant Bondz N’Gala was a reliable presence, while Sonny Bradley continues to impress in the centre of the Blues defence.

As for Phil Smith, in place of John Sullivan, four superb saves throws that little battle wide open ahead of the trip to Accrington this weekend.

All-round, it was comfortably a better Pompey display than the one mustered up so unimpressively against the U’s just 72 hours earlier.

Unquestionably, enough to maybe quieten a little the doom and gloomers who clambered over themselves to throw the towel in a mere 90 minutes of football into the new season.

The 1,354 visiting support witnessed an excellent reaction from both manager and players after that Fratton Park let down.

As it was, Eunan O’Kane’s 53rd-minute strike separated the sides who these days have two divisions between them and a gulf in finances to boot.

Nonetheless, plenty for Whittingham to be pleased with and enough to supply encouragement as the season moves on.

In selecting his side, Whittingham opted to replace the suspended Johnny Ertl with Romain Padovani, while Smith replaced Sullivan in goal.

Devera was handed the captaincy and moved over to right-back to accommodate N’Gala in the centre of defence, partnering Bradley.

With Simon Ferry moved to the bench, Danny East was given a central-midfield role, while Ricky Holmes took Andy Barcham’s spot on the left-wing.

Finally, Tom Craddock came in for David Connolly in attack, with the veteran dropping to the bench alongside Ashley Harris.

Pompey kicked off and straight away Patrick Agyemang was in the thick of the action with a 30-yard shot which went comfortably wide.

In the eighth minute, a tremendous piece of skill from Agyemang saw him turn and nutmeg former Pompey player Richard Hughes in one fluent move, before feeding Holmes in the left-hand channel of the box.

But Bournemouth skipper Tommy Elphick did superbly to come across and throw his body in the way to block the winger’s delivery.

At the other end, N’Gala put in a timely slide challenge to thwart O’Kane, who had got the wrong side of Dan Butler and then beat Bradley to break across the box.

Agyemang again tried his luck from distance in the 18th minute – Craddock laying a lofted ball into his path and the striker firing in a 30-yard volley which bounced just wide.

If anything, the shot caught the Cherries by surprise, with keeper Ryan Allsop scrambling across his goal at the snap shot.

Moments later, Simon Francis got down the right for the first time in the match.

And his wicked cross was nudged off target by the leg of Bradley, before Devera mopped up at the far post, putting it out for a corner.

Bournemouth continued to threaten and Wes Thomas should have done far better than head over from that resulting flag-kick delivered by O’Kane.

As the interval approached, the ball fell invitingly to Padovani 30 yards out but his first-time shot ballooned over the bar and crashed against the top of the stand behind the goal.

On the stroke of half-time, Smith had to be at his best with two superb stops to keep the scores level.

The first was from an Andrew Surman left-foot shot that was finger-tipped around the post, then he pushed a Ryan Fraser effort away.

Some resilient defending also saw Donal McDermott’s drive blocked as the visitors scrapped away and hung over to the break.

Smith was beaten, though, in the 53rd minute through O’Kane.

Surman fed Fraser, whose shot inside the box was blocked by the flying body of Bradley.

But O’Kane was there to finish from close range.

Pompey were not done, however, and Holmes surged forward past two tackles and drove in a shot from outside the box which deflected for a corner.

In the 64th minute, Butler was dispossessed during a swashbuckling run into the Cherries half, and they capitalised on the space behind – Fraser feeding Surman, whose drive flashed just past the post.

Ferry was introduced moments later and was soon followed by Ryan Bird and Barcham as Whittingham used his full quota of substitutes by the 71st minute.

It took another good stop from Smith, though, to keep the visitors in it.

This time he tipped Surman’s shot around the post.

Pompey plugged away and Craddock headed over, but it was the other end which saw late pressure applied as Bournemouth pushed forward.

Yet it was one goal which settled it – a result which at least provides encouragement rather than the gloom which accompanied Saturday.