Since November I’ve been following a team in the FA Cup all the way from the 1st round to the final in May. As luck would have it I’ve only had to focus on two teams thus far thanks to some impressive results. I completely forgot to do a 4th round preview (which would also have had a 3rd round review) so it’s time for a little recap.
We started off following Conference side Luton Town who faced League Two side Rochdale in the first round. After a victory in the replay, Luton went on to beat another League Two team in the second round – Rotherham. So far, so impressive.
The third round saw them face League One Southampton but the extra step in class was too much, Southampton winning 1-0. By all accounts it was a close game but that extra bit of quality told in the end. Southampton’s reward in the fourth round was a home game against Roy Keane’s Ipswich Town, again a game which would have been in the top flight not so long ago.
As it happens they both played Championship football in 2008/09 but Southampton’s administration and subsequent relegation put paid to that to this season. Perhaps it was the fact they took four points from Ipswich in 08/09 or maybe it was just the magic of the cup but either way the match ended with a 2-1 victory to Southampton.
Defender Wayne Thomas scored a peach of a goal to give Southampton the lead and they wrapped it up in the second half with a strike from Antonio, before Counago got a late Ipswich consolation. With the victory Southampton become the only remaining League One side in the competition (I think Nott’s County are the only other lower league side left).
So we’re up to date at last and to make things interesting Southampton have a cracking opponent this weekend – their arch-rivals Portsmouth. I’m kind of glad the focus is on the home team here as I’d be writing all night if I was looking at Pompey’s recent history.
Having gone through administration, Southampton are now stable again, albeit in mid-table in League One. They have a new owner in Markus Liebherr and I read somewhere that when he took over it was one of the few instances where creditors got all their money back, which is nice of him.
Portsmouth on the other hand are about a week away from going bust at any given stage and have had more owners this season then a pyramid timeshare scheme run by Bernie Madoff. As it stands, they exist and the TV money this game brings in will help something or other no doubt.
In many ways the cup has been a nice distraction for Portsmouth, as they’ve put aside their awful league form to despatch first Coventry and then Sunderland to reach this stage. They haven’t won in the league this year so the occasional cup win is probably keeping spirits up.
Though Southampton are two levels below Portsmouth these days, they’ve never lost to them in four FA Cup meetings and are unbeaten at St. Mary’s the last five times the sides have met. That said, Pompey bashed them 4-1 at Fratton Park in the last match (though it was five years ago now).
Here’s what Lawro thinks:
Everybody knows there is absolutely no love lost between these two. For Portsmouth, with all their financial problems, to get another game out of this tie would be more use to them than to Southampton.
Thanks Lawro, I’d advise to bet on anything but that result. I love how there’s no analysis just a random prediction. Though judging how he’s kicking the Sportboys’ arse in our predictions battle maybe you should put a cheeky tenner at 15-1 on it! If you’re into online betting those are pretty good odds.
Personally I think Southampton might be in luck. They have a new-born baby on their side (random story I know), there’s no better time to play Portsmouth and the fact that the Premier League side are only very slight favourites suggests this will be a close one. Alan Pardew has tended to play decent football as a manager and I’ll back them to win 2-1. If I can bothered I may even do a minute by minute on it tomorrow lunchtime. On second thoughts maybe not.