Brave Blues exit Capital One Cup

Pompey new-boy Tom Craddock gets the better of former Blues player Richard Hughes Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey new-boy Tom Craddock gets the better of former Blues player Richard Hughes Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey’s brave rearguard action was finally punctured in the second half as Eunan O’Kane condemned them to a 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth tonight.

O’Kane’s 53rd-minute effort was the difference between the sides as Guy Whittingham’s men went out of the Capital One Cup at the first-round stage.

But there were positives to take for the Blues in the shape of an organised defensive display against the Championship outfit.

That was much improved from the deficiencies they showed on the back foot in the League Two opening day loss to Oxford.

And Phil Smith could be pleased with pulling off a string of fine saves as the goalkeeping battle with John Sullivan gathered pace.

Pompey made six changes to the side beaten by Oxford on Saturday, giving full debuts to Smith, Bondz N’Gala, Danny East, Romain Padovani, Tom Craddock and Ricky Holmes.

That meant Joe Devera shifting to right-back in a 4-4-2 formation and N’Gala operating alongside Sonny Bradley in the centre of defence.

Bournemouth had the early pressure but it was the visitors who had the first decent chance when Patrick Agyemang freed Holmes – but his shot was blocked.

O’Kane then beat both Dan Butler and Bradley but N’Gala did superbly to block his goalbound effort.

Agyemang then went close from 30 yards with a speculative effort in the 18th minute, before Devera blocked the dangerous Simon Francis’ shot.

Smith then came to Pompey’s rescue with a top-drawer double stop on the stroke of half-time.

His first effort to keep out Andrew Surman’s 25-yarder was world-class – and he then dived full length to push Ryan Fraser’s effort away moments later to ensure the visitors went in all square at the break.

Pompey’s resistance was finally broken eight minutes after the restart.

It was a little harsh on the visitors as Ryan Fraser’s shot was well blocked by Bradley - but fell invitingly for O’Kane to finish.

The Blues were still battling away, though, as Holmes showed when he ran 50 yards but saw his shot deflected wide.

Simon Ferry, Ryan Bird and Andy Barcham were all thrown on as Whittingham chased the game in a positive fashion.

And Ferry lifted hopes of a leveller when he charged forward, before shooting at keeper Ryan Allsop with eight minutes left.

But the goal wouldn’t come as Pompey went out at the competition’s first round stage for the third year on the bounce.