Football / FA Cup Third Round: Fortune deflected away from Pompey

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The Independent Online
Portsmouth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Blackburn Rovers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

WHEN you have lost an FA Cup semi-final on a penalty shoot-out, reminders are not necessary that gallant performances can sometimes be the attractive facade hiding deep disappointment. Portsmouth suffered again last night, losing this third-round replay to three deflected goals.

Alan Shearer, with his 24th goal in 22 matches, David May and Jason Wilcox pushed Blackburn through to a tie at Charlton in the next round. Although they were the better side they also had fortune on their side.

With 17 minutes remaining Alan McLoughlin dragged Portsmouth back and at 2-1 they had grounds for believing they might stage a revival

Five minutes later Jason Wilcox, the ball bouncing off his knee, chest and hand, scored Blackburn's third and put the tie beyond reach.

McLoughlin provided Portsmouth's greatest threat again. Apart from his goal, a turn and shot from Darryl Powell's cross, he was also close with a dribble after just 20 seconds and a header that was saved from point-blank range by Tim Flowers.

Only a header by Bjorn Kristensen prevented Kevin Gallacher scoring with an overhead kick in the first minute but it was Alan Shearer who opened the scoring in the 44th minute.

The England striker had announced his presence with a shot after 38 minutes that had Alan Knight at full stretch, but the goalkeeper had no chance with the next. Tim Sherwood's attempt from the right was blocked but the ball fell to Shearer, whose reactions were instant and his fortune almost as true as a deflection off Andy Awford's leg diverted the shot into the corner.

When May headed Blackburn 2-0 ahead from Sherwood's free-kick the contest appeared to have been won. McLoughlin gave Portsmouth hope; Wilcox removed it. Ripley crossed, there was a blur of blue shirt and ball and somehow the latter ended in the net. 'I think everyone in the ground saw a hand touch the ball except the referee,' May admitted.

Portsmouth (5-3-2): Knight; Neill, Kristensen, Butters (Hall, 79) , Awford, Daniel; McLoughlin, Durnin, Stimson (Dobson, 79); Walsh, Powell. Substitute not used: Horne (gk).

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; May, Berg, Hendry (Moran, 52), Le Saux; Ripley, Sherwood, Batty, Wilcox; Gallacher, Shearer. Substitutes not used: Pearce, Mimms (gk).

Referee: J Kirby (Sheffield).