Rudderless Pompey humiliated
By Patrick Goss
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Portmouth's terrible week continued with a 3-0 defeat to Watford in the Carling Cup.Portsmouth's terrible week continued with a convincing 3-0 defeat to Championship side Watford in the Carling Cup.
Shorn of their popular manager, this may still be the team that Harry built but, on a chilly Tuesday evening at Vicarage Road, it lacked the drive and professionalism that Redknapp had instilled in his side.
Two goals from the ever-impressive Heidar Helguson, and a simple tap-in for Bruce Dyer condemned the Premiership visitors to an embarrassing defeat under Velimir Zajec, and the manner of the defeat will be a major concern to the club's interim boss.
Watford, who have already claimed the scalp of Pompey's south coast rivals Southampton in this competition, will enjoy their victory, but will be mystified at how easy it was to brush past a side that are 11th in the top-flight.
A low-key first half had quickly shown that the loss of Redknapp has hit the club hard. Watford looked the side with the greater desire, and had an early Gavin Mahon free-kick drift just wide.
At the other end Pompey's Linvoy Primus could not convert from close range after Patrik Berger's free-kick had picked him out in the box, but it was the hosts that took a deserved lead.
Inexperienced goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown was at fault as he came out to meet a Neil Cox free-kick that was simply thrown high into the box.
Not for the first time this season Helguson rose highest and his looping header landed in the back of the net despite the attentions of the Portsmouth defence.
It could have been two from a similar route, when another high ball into the box again caught out the Pompey defence only for Neal Ardley to aim his header far too close the grateful Ashdown.
Berger had the best chance to gift the Premiership outfit parity, but his stinging drive from the edge of the box was acrobatically tipped over by Richard Lee.
Half time brought a appearance from Watford fan Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon, and provided the frustrated Pompey fans some light relief as they gave the musician a hot reception.
Indeed, Sharon Osbourne's single fingered response to a chant of 'Who's got your valuables' no doubt proved the highlight for many that had made the trip up to Hertfordshire.
The enthusiasm of the fans, impressive throughout, did not transmit itself to the players however, and the arrival of Kevin Harper and Andy Griffin from the substitutes' bench failed to turn the game in Portsmouth's favour.
Indeed it only took 12 scrappy minutes for Watford to extend their lead - with Helguson again in the right place to take advantage of a Jermaine Darlington cross, and easily convert from close range with the defence at sixes and sevens.
Four minutes later and it was all over bar the shouting, when James Chambers cantered onto a fine Helguson pass but found his firm drive parried into the path of Dyer - who converted into the empty net.
It became a case of damage limitation, although it took a fine block from Sean Dyche to deny a goal-bound Harper drive, and Ashdown spared Pompey's further blushes with two late saves to deny both Ardley and substitute Scott Fitzgerald.
The loss of Redknapp always looked likely to hit Portsmouth hard, but as the fans sang his name and held aloft banners proclaiming their sadness at his exit, it really did feel like the end of an era.
Watford, on the other hand, have reached a domestic Cup semi-final for the second time under manager Ray Lewington - and the sorry state of their opposition should not take away from their glory.
|Shots on target||9||3|
|Shots off target||3||3|