Harry Redknapp will challenge David Nugent to prove he was right after all to pay 6m for the former Preston striker last summer after his shot took Portsmouth into the fourth round at the expense of their Championship opponents Ipswich.
The 22-year-old started on the bench and his 51st-minute goal was only his third since his move. Once regarded as the best striker outside the top flight, Nugent has made only four Premier League appearances and Portsmouth manager Redknapp admits he has been disappointed.
"I'd be lying if I said I was happy with him because if I was he would be in the team," Redknapp said. "But with four lads going to the African Nations Cup and another couple with long-term injuries I'm down to 14 players so there is a chance for him now and it is up to him to take it."
Redknapp conceded he had taken a risk in signing the former England under-21 player. "I was warned that he was not the best of trainers," he added. "But being around better players he has realised what it takes at this level and he has worked hard and improved his training in the last month or so. It has been hard for him because we play one up front and Benjani has been fantastic but no one wants him to succeed more than me."
Ipswich's chances diminished when 19-year-old Liam Trotter was sent off after 24 minutes, the teenager falling victim to the clamp-down on so-called "jump tackles" after a challenge on Pedro Mendes. The referee, Mark Halsey, in radio contact with his fourth official, appeared to change his mind about which card to show, infuriating manager Jim Magilton. "The tackle was a bit late but he is a young lad and from an experienced referee I would have expected a yellow," Magilton said. Redknapp agreed the decision was "a bit harsh".
But the home side rallied and it took two brilliant saves from David James to deny Alan Lee and Danny Haynes in a rousing finish.
Goal: Nugent (51) 0-1.
Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Alexander; Sito(Naylor, 89), Bruce, Wilnis, Wright; Haynes, Williams (Lee, 79), Garvan, Trotter; Counago, Clarke (Peters, 59). Substitutes not used: Supple (gk), Miller.
Portsmouth (4-1-4-1): James; Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson; Mendes (Nugent, h-t); Utaka, Mvuemba, Diop, Kranjcar; Kanu. Substitutes not used: Lauren, Traor, Pamarot, Begovic (gk).
Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).
Booked: Ipswich Counago, Lee; Portsmouth Hreidarsson.
Sent-off: Ipswich Trotter (24).
Man of the match: James.
Call from Capello?
David James (Portsmouth)
Portsmouth's 37-year-old goalkeeper proved that he is still capable of adding to his 35 caps after producing two brilliant, match-winning saves.Reuse content