It was all there at The Dell yesterday. The kick-off was slightly delayed to sort out a fracas in the crowd, the players spent the next 90 minutes being perpetually roared on, gorging craters in shins and pulling shirts out of shape. There were eight bookings and three goals, and there could easily have been more of both. All fairly mundane stuff for this sort of contest.
Derby matches between Southampton and Portsmouth are rare - there have been only 29 in all - because they have spent so much time in different divisions, but the fervour which accompanies them is beyond question. Southampton were fully worth their advance into the fourth round. They might frequently have found Portsmouth irksome but they defended calmly and swiftly punished sloppy errors in the opposition area.
To the neutral eye, one of an entertaining match's blessings was a return to something like form of Matthew Le Tissier. He was occasionally slipshod but, then, he often conveys that impression. However, he was also delightful. He was not involved in the first goal, bustled in by Jim Magilton in the 12th minute, seconds after Pompey had a valid penalty appeal refused. But he was instrumental in beginning the series of bookings two minutes later when Guy Butters made an early and, as it turned out, successful bid for foul of the match by carving into him.
Seconds after the interval, Le Tissier strode with the ball for some 50 yards after receiving it directly from goalkeeper Dave Beasant. The Pompey defenders stood off, reluctant to commit themselves while Le Tissier threatened to do several things with the ball. Eventually he shot from the area's edge and the ball was parried by an unfortunate Alan Knight into the path of Magilton.
Portsmouth were not dispirited, and Paul Hall was denied only by Beasant's dive. Had Jimmy Carter or Fitzroy Simpson scored in the 64th minute, as both should have done amid some frenetic goalmouth activity, it might have been different. However, it was all much too late by the time Le Tissier gallivanted along the byline to allow Neil Shipperley to secure an assured victory.
Southampton (4-4-2): Beasant; Neilson, Dodd, Monkou, Charlton; Le Tissier, Magilton, Venison, Heaney (McDonald, 45); Shipperley, Watson (Maddison 80). Substitute not used: Bennett.
Portsmouth (4-4-2): Knight; Pethick, Gittens, Butters, Stimson; Durnin, McLoughlin, Simpson, Wood (Carter, 51); Walsh, Hall (Burton, 65). Substitute not used: Thomson.
Referee: M Bodenham (Looe, Cornwall)
Bookings: Southampton: Le Tissier, Venison, McDonald. Portsmouth: Butters, Walsh, Pethick Simpson, Hall.
Man of the match: Monkou.