After making the third round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2010, Pompey fans are hopeful of a good run following a 1-0 home win against Accrington Stanley at the weekend.
Now the big boys are all in the hat, Pompey will surely be eyeing a Premier League tie in Monday’s draw. Names such as Southampton and Eastleigh were thrown around Fratton on Saturday afternoon after Adam McGurk converted Marc McNulty’s cross to sending the Blues through.
A South Coast derby really wouldn’t go a miss with Portsmouth and Southampton not having met since April 2012, a match which Blues fans have fond memories of with David Norris snatching a last-minute equaliser. Coincidentally, Southampton were also victims in Pompey’s FA Cup journey of 2010, losing 4-1 at home in the fifth round.
However, it would appear that the Pompey squad have their eyes set on other top-flight outfits, with Gary Roberts tweeting his desire for a tie against Everton and Christian Burgess wishing for a draw against West Ham. There is also no doubt about who manager Paul Cook wants to face in the third round. After heading to St Mary’s on Wednesday to watch his beloved Liverpool in the Capital One Cup, there’s a very strong chance he’s after a tie against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, even though it would be a very likely exit from the competition.
Despite the dreams of a big third round match, it must also be noted that there are still 20 balls which signify either a League 1, League 2, or non-league side, meaning there is a very high chance of Portsmouth getting a slightly easier draw. Even though that doesn’t really exist in the FA Cup, and after recent years Portsmouth know more than anyone how anything can happen, should we be drawn against one of these lower league sides, it could provide an easier route into the fourth round. The third round is not the only one where an exciting tie can unfold, therefore if Pompey were to get through this stage against a like-minded team, the chances are they’d be more likely to face a top-flight side as the competition progresses and the stronger teams prevail. Moreover, a couple of draws against lower opposition could immediately see the Blues in the fifth round or even the quarter-finals should their luck continue past this stage.
Having said that, in a season where promotion really is the ultimate goal, it could be argued that forfeiting the cup would be worthwhile to the league campaign. With Pompey currently sitting fifth in League Two, it is clear that the season has not quite started as we would have hoped. Of course, we must be patient with a whole new squad and coaching staff coming in at the start of the season, but having players like we do and playing as well as we are, it is important to start seeing out games and securing the three points. Having our best players available for these games is absolutely crucial and we cannot afford to have injuries creep up as a result of FA Cup matches. The last month has been a slight struggle without Roberts and Tubbs, so if other key players suffer knocks, strains or tears, it would be detrimental for our promotion push.
Therefore, the FA Cup brings highs and lows, positives and negatives, but overall a good run in the competition would really boost confidence and liven up a season that, come next year, could result in the Blues entering as a League One outfit.