Pompey caught short : FOOTBALL

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The Independent Online
Portsmouth 0

Leicester City 1

Roberts 44

The bare statistics of this tie will have Graham Kelly trembling again - five players booked, two sent off - but these offences, not to mention Leicester's narrow victory through a Iwan Roberts goal, owed everything to terrible conditions and a referee, Dermot Gallagher, who was not prepared to make allowances for them.

The dismissal of Portsmouth's defender Jon Gittens, and their goalkeeper Alan Knight, might have been met with cautions in any other week but this, and their effect on yesterday's game was to ruin it as a spectacle.

Mr Gallagher may also regret his decision to give the match the go-ahead after two morning pitch inspections, for that was the other factor in what had always looked like a David versus David tie. The two clubs may have had Goliath status when they contested Cup semi-finals in 1934 and 1949, but these days they are both in relegation trouble.

Nevertheless, Leicester's midweek win at Manchester City seemed to have given them new heart and early on Mark Robins set up a chance for Lee Philpott which the midfielder screwed just wide. Indeed for the first half-hour Leicester had the edge, passing and moving with composure despite the elements, although it needed a splendid save from Kevin Poole to keep out Bjorn Kristensen's curler.

And then the match turned Leicester's way. First Gittens got his marching orders after his reflex tug on Steve Thompson had been a deemed a red-card offence. Portsmouth, like dazed boxers, clung to the ropes for sanctuary, but their reorganised defence gifted Leicester the winner just before the interval. Robbie Pethick, filling in for Gittens, gave the ball away to Philpott and his low cross was turned home on the slide by Roberts.

Leicester went straight for the kill after half-time, but Knight stood firm, although his forwards never looked likely to break a strong Leicester defence.

With 20 minutes remaining, Mr Gallagher's second intervention finished Pompey off. Knight had come sprawling out to block Mark Draper's shot, but his momentum on the mud took him out of his area to handle the ball. After a token consultation with the linesman, the referee ruled that Knight must walk.

Alan McLoughlin had a last-minute chance to equalise, but fired his shot wide. Leicester progressed to the fifth round, but their older fans will remember 1969, when they reached the final but forgot about staying up in the First Division.

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