Stoke 3 Pompey 0

Jonathan Walters opens the scoring for Stoke. Picture: Joe Pepler
Jonathan Walters opens the scoring for Stoke. Picture: Joe Pepler
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They sang what they thought of the Premier League, they chanted about Wembley being a second home.

The visiting support – which numbered approximately 900 – even chimed in with renditions of ‘Let’s pretend we’ve scored a goal’ and celebrated accordingly.

The Blues last night faced a Premier League side for only the second time since their May 2010 tumble out of the top flight and continued plummet down the divisions.

And how the Fratton faithful revelled in the Britannia Stadium occasion, regardless of their team’s elimination from the Capital One Cup through a 3-0 defeat.

Dominant Stoke were worthy winners, entirely comfortable and inspired by a sensational debut from on-loan Victor Moses down the left flank.

Had it not been for the astonishing brilliance of Blues keeper Paul Jones, the scoreline would have been considerably more emphatic.

As it was, Jonathan Walters marked his first start of the season with two goals and ex-Pompey striker Peter Crouch grabbed a third in the last minute to cap the triumph.

Andy Awford had opted to make eight changes to the side which picked up a fourth successive victory at Oxford at the weekend.

Those selected gave their all, scrapped away and did their club proud – a fact recognised by the travelling support who demand effort and endeavour from their players.

Yet unsurprisingly they were comprehensively outplayed by a team from the Premier League.

Meanwhile, the quiet Potters support were easily outclassed by those accommodated in the away end, a feat indeed considering how the match unfolded on the pitch in front.

Irrespective of that, as anyone of a Pompey persuasion will tell you, getting out of League Two remains the priority rather than a cup tie in Stoke.

Newport County on Saturday is the real focus.

Paul Jones, Joe Devera and Ricky Holmes were the only survivors from the side which defeated Oxford United at the weekend as Awford rotated his squad.

The Blues boss also elected to switch his system from three central defenders to a 4-1-4-1 formation.

That prompted the returns of Adam Webster and Dan Butler as full-backs, with Jack Whatmough partnering Devera in the centre of defence.

Nick Awford was given his full debut, while Johnny Ertl was made skipper in his first start of the campaign.

Ryan Taylor was restored to the attack, with Jed Wallace, Andy Barcham and Holmes operating alongside Awford as the midfielders behind.

In addition, there was a first squad appearance of the campaign for Fratton youngster Ben Close, named among the seven substitutes.

As for Stoke, they made nine changes to the side which drew 1-1 at Hull City on Sunday.

That meant Marc Wilson and Asmir Begovic did not start against their former club, although Crouch was selected to lead the attack, while Moses was given his debut.

It was with inevitability that the hosts started strongly and on four minutes Walters centred dangerously from the left but Butler was there at the far post to put it out for a corner.

Then Devera did well to get ahead of the lurking Crouch to put Moses’ low cross from the left out for another corner.

On six minutes, Stoke left-back Marc Muniesa whipped in a deep cross which was met by the head of Crouch yet flew comfortably wide.

However, Stoke broke the deadlock on 16 minutes through Walters.

Muniesa delivered a wonderful cross from the left into the danger area and Walters’ out-stretched foot arrived before Jones to nudge it into the net.

Moments later, Jones had to produce a superb double save to firstly deny the lively Moses and then Crouch’s close-range follow-up.

The hosts once more carved open the Blues with the already- outnumbered Whatmough slipping to allow them a clear run on goal.

The youngster regained his balance, though, and crucially blocked Walters’ attempted pass down the line to avert the danger.

Still the Potters came forward and Jones brilliantly kept out Crouch’s header from Moses’ centre before safely gathering the loose ball.

At the other end, Webster collected a Pompey throw-in and clipped in a cross from the right which was narrowly out 
of reach of Taylor at the far post.

In the 34th minute, Whatmough hobbled off to be replaced by Paul Robinson in an enforced substitution.

The half came to an end with Jones tipping over Charlie Adam’s long-range effort and then, from the resulting corner, clutching Walters’ shot which threatened to loop over him after a deflection.

After the break, Awford tried a shot from distance which was closed down by Stoke full-back Andy Wilkinson.

The ball ballooned up into the air but was comfortably gathered by the Potters’ keeper Jack Butland.

On 47 minutes, the Potters extended their lead when Moses escaped down the left and crossed low for Walters to tap home at the far post.

The Stoke forward was denied a hat-trick on 51 minutes when Jones saved at point-blank range.

And the keeper was alert enough to claw the ball away from Crouch as he attempted to follow up into the empty net.

Crouch then headed wide from Muniesa’s cross and put Walters’ delivery from the right just past the post with another header.

Next Webster was caught in possession and Adam was magnificently denied at close-range by Jones once more. On 62 minutes Holmes tried his luck from 25 yards but the ball was tipped over the bar by Butland.

But it was the Jones show, with the Pompey keeper denying substitute Steve Sidwell and then saving Marko Arnautovic’s long-range drive.

The scoreline was completed when Crouch headed home in the final minute – not that it mattered.

Pompey have bigger matters to concern them this season.