Portsmouth earned a 2-0 victory at QPR on Wednesday night to seal their place in the hat for the third round of the Carabao Cup.
In his pre-match programme notes, QPR boss Mark Warburton spoke of his great respect for Wednesday night’s opposing manager, Portsmouth’s Kenny Jackett.
A nice gesture without doubt but, unfortunately, that respect extended too far onto the pitch for the majority of this clash, with the overall game rather forgettable.
In a first half that offered little to get the pulses racing, QPR were perhaps the most potent and threat-carrying.
A foray from Jan Mlakar ended in a cross/shot from the right-hand side of the box – one that Bright Osayi-Samuel just could not reach as he stretched out at the far post.
Indeed, the most-likely looking player to break the deadlock in the first 45 was Ilias Chair. Still fresh from his fine spell in League Two at the end of last season for Stevenage, he was evidently keen to stake a claim for a run at the Championship, though the two shots he would have proved bread and butter for Craig MacGillivray in the Portsmouth goal.
For Pompey, though they looked relatively assured at the back, they too could not offer much going the other way – Marcus Harness perhaps the most direct down the right-hand side, whilst Ross McCrorie’s long-range effort needed dealing with by Liam Kelly for the R’s.
0-0 as we went into the second half, then, and unfortunately the tone of the evening largely carried on from where it had begun in the first.
There was quality in patches in this game, but it never really caught alight – rather sparking and then quickly extinguishing.
Marc Pugh had a flying header saved by MacGillivray – it just needed to be placed either side of the ‘keeper – whilst Christian Burgess’ first-time strike from the right-hand side of the box almost cut through the malaise. Almost.
Finely poised it was as we went into the final 15 minutes, then, and then John Marquis won a penalty. Our spark, at last, had some fuel.
Rolling his marker, he went down under the challenge and earned himself the spot-kick. Cool as you like, too, he passed the ball home, sending Portsmouth on their way.
Indeed, from here Pompey looked fairly assured and, given the nature of the game prior, it didn’t seem as though much more would happen to change that.
A second goal for them, then, would kill things and, duly, it did.
As QPR looked to push on and get an equaliser, Pompey broke and Ross McCrorie’s centre found Marcus Harness on the right-hand side at the far post. He couldn’t miss, he didn’t miss, and Portsmouth were into the third round.
In truth, this game could have easily gone the other way, too, but it was Pompey who were eventually that little bit more clinical with the opportunities they did have.
Far from a classic, Kenny Jackett will certainly be pleased to have gotten over their 3-3 draw against Coventry with this eventual result.