Wolves fall to Hall

Wolves 1 Ferguson 68 Portsmouth 2 McLoughlin 68, Hall 80 Attenda nce: 23,626
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The Independent Online
Wolves' home form in the League has been so bad and their away form so good that a gloomily prescient Wolves supporter was overheard in the queue for half-time sustenance commenting: "I fancy we can go all the way to Wembley if only we were drawn away every round."

The Cup brought Wolves no better luck in a strangely passionless match which was played in a sort of icy, suspended animation for 70 minutes, then exploded into thunderous activity in the final 20.

Portsmouth looked by far the sharper in a goalless first half. They kept their neat passing game alive and hustled well in midfield, mainly through the busy and committed Alan McLoughlin, to set up by far the best chances. Several times Lee Bradbury and the sharp Paul Hall linked well in the penalty area with Bradbury's best headed effort cleared off the line by Robbie Dennison.

Portsmouth also had a clear advantage in the wing-back department with Robbie Pethick shooting across the goal to miss a good chance and Fitzroy Simpson providing a jinking, creative outlet on the left. But it was the Bradbury/Hall combination which provided Pompey's first goal for McLoughlin, who sneaked in between two defenders to head home Bradbury's cross.

Shortly after half-time Wolves made a double substitution. One of the new men, Darren Ferguson, who had replaced the disappointing Steve Corica, supplied the classic counter thrust to level the scores within a minute. In a flowing move, Dennison crossed low into the area for Ferguson to slide in and divert the ball past Alan Knight.

But Portsmouth still looked the sharper and 10 minutes later Bradbury nodded a Simpson cross down to Hall, who stabbed the ball home at the second attempt. Wolves pressed forward frantically and squandered several decent chances, the best of which fell bizarrely to the goalkeeper, Mike Stowell, who had come forward for an injury-time corner. His shot from 10 yards was well blocked by Knight and Wolves were left to concentrate on the League for another year.

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