Kamara provides decisive debut

Tranmere Rovers 0 - Portsmouth 1
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The Independent Football

Portsmouth's record signing Diomansy Kamara has seen to it that there will not be any more cup shocks at Prenton Park for now. The £2.4m capture from Modena marked his first start in English football with the only goal of a tie short on traditional Birkenhead romance.

Portsmouth's record signing Diomansy Kamara has seen to it that there will not be any more cup shocks at Prenton Park for now. The £2.4m capture from Modena marked his first start in English football with the only goal of a tie short on traditional Birkenhead romance.

Kamara's decider mid-way through the second half was just about deserved and vindicated Harry Redknapp's decision to ring the changes ready for higher callings.

Aliou Cissé, Valéry Mezague and goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown all made their debuts against hosts who, standing fourth in League One, also had other things on their mind.

There should have been a sting in the tail as home substitute Calvin Zola headed too high from only seven yards following a last-minute cross from former Pompey forward Paul Hall. That prompted Redknapp to say after three days in the north with his players since Saturday's defeat at Blackburn Rovers: "I was worried because I wanted to go home. I thought the fish and chip shop might be closing."

Brian Little, three times a League Cup winner as manager or player with Aston Villa, had seen his Tranmere side concede only six goals in a nine-game unbeaten sequence in league and cup. And a club steeped in giant-killing history for a decade and a half were well served by a team who gave almost as good as they got.

After John Achterberg had saved comfortably from Ricardo Fuller and then with more difficulty from Patrik Berger's 25-yard free-kick, the tie was even.

Theodore Whitmore had a 20-yard shot pulled down at the other end by Ashdown before both sides missed big chances soon after half-time. First, Jason McAteer bounced a centre invitingly between Andy Griffin and Linvoy Primus but the in-rushing Eugène Dadi was stretching as he powered a header over.

Acting captain Berger then appeared to have a routine task to put Pompey in front, only to hoist his shot over from 12 yards when Kamara's cut-back found Achterberg off his line.

Undaunted, the Czech played his part in breaking the deadlock in the 65th minute. From Gary O'Neil's right-wing cross, he returned the ball to the goalmouth, where Kamara despatched a low left-foot shot inside Achterberg's near post.

Little admitted: "It was a hard-fought, close game but a chance like that is accepted more often than not by Premiership teams."

Tranmere Rovers (4-4-2): Achterberg; Taylor, Sharps, Goodison, Roberts; Hall, Rankine, McAteer, Whitmore (Beresford, 75); Hume, Dadi (Zola, 75). Substitutes not used: Howarth (gk), Loran, Jennings.

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Ashdown; Griffin, Primus, Unsworth, Taylor; O'Neil, Cissé, Mezague, Berger (Stefanovic, 90); Fuller (Yakubu, 71), Kamara. Substitutes not used: Hislop (gk), Hughes, Faye.

Referee: C Webster (Tyne & Wear).

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