THE MEMORY of a stuttering performance will fire Pompey up for the FA Cup.
Enda Stevens will be out to put right the 0-0 draw with Accrington Stanley in September, and put the Blues in the hat for the third round tomorrow.
I don’t think that we played too well. We’ll know better now.Enda Stevens
Stanley won the respect of Paul Cook’s side that afternoon as they departed Fratton Park with a fully-deserved point.
John Coleman’s men did that without shutting up shop, as many of the sides have opted to do when coming to town this season.
Few would have expected his team, assembled to on a shoestring budget, to have built on that performance with the form they have since shown.
They come into the second-round tie above Pompey in the League Two table and on a six-game unbeaten run.
Stevens insisted his team will be prepared for what Stanley have to offer.
He said: ‘It’s massive. It’s a game we’re looking forward to.
‘Everyone wants to go on an FA Cup run and we know it will be a tough game, but everyone is looking forward to it.
‘It’ll be a break from the league and we have to look forward to putting on a good performance and going through.
‘They turned up and gave us a tough game in the league.
‘I don’t think that we played too well. We’ll know better now.
‘We know they are a good team and we respect them.
‘They have showed that they are capable, but it’s up to us to put our stamp on it and get a win.’
Pompey will be looking to progress to the third round of the Cup for the first time since 2012.
That’s when Michael Appleton’s side fell to a 4-0 defeat at Premier League big boys Chelsea.
Stevens would be delighted to be able to snare another top-flight side in the new year.
But the 25-year-old underlined it’s crucial his team don’t look beyond the opponents in front of them at Fratton Park tomorrow.
Stevens said: ‘It’s massive to be able to get in the hat for the third round.
‘I know it’s important for the fans who turn up.
‘We really want to make it to that stage for them.
‘I’d be happy to play anyone at that stage.
‘We just have to look at Accrington first.
‘Hopefully we step up and deliver.’
It’ll be a case of friends reunited again for the cup tie as Cook comes up against one of his former sides.
He played for and managed Stanley, spending three years as a player and a further year as boss.
His assistant Leam Richardson also has strong connections with the club, but that will be of little significance to Stevens,
Stevens said: ‘It’s a game with connections because of the management, but we prefer to focus on what we can do over that.
‘We’ll focus on their strong points and weaknesses.
‘We’ll get on to the training ground this week and work on ourselves.
‘We go into any game at Fratton Park with enthusiasm,
‘Hopefully we can put on a show for the fans.’
- JORDAN CROSS