Portsmouth 6:1 Leicester City
Paulo Sousa’s City career suffered what might be irreparable damage as his side collapsed against bottom placed Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Friday night.
“Someone is in line for a real beating – Leicester City boss Paulo Sousa.”
The Mercury headline was quickly proved right, though probably not in the way Sousa intended.
Sousa made four changes to the side that won a League Cup tie on the same ground four days earlier with Oakley, Neilson, Berner and Waghorn in for Moreno, Lamey, Kennedy and Gallagher. That meant no place for Hobbs in the centre of defence.
After a cagey opening ten minutes the first disaster of the night befell City. Lawrence delivered a corner from the right and as Morrison went up for an aerial challenge with Kitson he inexplicably stuck out an arm and made contact with the ball. He was given a card to match his yellow shirt and Lawrence slotted a perfect spot-kick low to the right, sending Logan the wrong way.
City thought they had pulled a goal back when a great ball from Dyer sent King through to beat Ashdown, but the linesman flagged for offside while replays showed King to be dead level with the last defender.
The home side applied some pressure and Logan saved well from a well struck Lawrence shot, while Brown sent a low shot just wide of the right hand post.
At the other end a rare chance for City saw Waghorn fire narrowly wide from 35 yards.
City’s night went from bad to worse in the 32nd minute. A long ball over the top saw Vitor wrapping his arms round Nugent, who went to ground just outside the area. The ref called it as denying a goalscoring opportunity and Vitor was dismissed with a straight red. Lawrence’s free-kick then took a big deflection which carried the ball over the diving Logan and into the net.
Two minutes later Hobbs replaced Abe as Sousa reorganised his defence.
The second half turned into a nightmare for City and their loyal followers.
Dickinson skimmed the crossbar with a hopeful long range effort, but ti was only a temporary let-off.
In the 57th minute Portsmouth made it 3-0. Logan did well to save a Kitson drive and then blocked Nugent’s follow up, but couldn’t reach Nugent’s second attempt, with no aid in sight.
Just 15 seconds after the restart it was 4-0. Morrison’s second disaster of the night saw him lose possession to Nugent who squared for Kitson to chip the ball over the exposed Logan and into the net.
City managed a reply in the 71st minute when Howard battled with two defenders before toe-poking the ball home from close range.
But that rare decent moment was only a brief respite. In the 83rd minute a cross from Lawrence wasn’t dealt with by a defence that appeared to be melting away and Kitson had an easy finish for 5-1.
Portsmouth then reached half a dozen in time added on with almost embarrassing ease… Brown finishing from an acute angle to complete City’s misery.
It was a dreadful night for City, witnessed by the SKy TV cameras and made still worse by the apparent love-in between the Portsmouth fans and the beaming Milan Mandaric.
Sousa was defiant: “We need to keep fighting and the fans need to believe in us. We feel terrible but we want to turn things. I see good spirit in the squad. I never feel under pressure. I feel very secure in myself and very positive. We will turn things.”
But there was little evidence of any spirit on the field on a terrible night for City.
Portsmouth: Ashdown, Rocha (Sonko 82), Dickinson, Ward, Lawrence, Brown, Mokoena, Utaka, Mullins (Ciftci 75), Kitson, Nugent (Kanu 78). Subs Not Used: Flahavan.
Leicester: Logan, Berner, Neilson, Miguel Vítor (sent off 31), Morrison, King, Dyer ( Fryatt 59), Oakley, Abe (Hobbs 36), Howard, Waghorn. Subs Not Used: Gallagher, Ikeme, Moreno, Moussa, Wellens.
Referee: K Hill (Hertfordshire). Attendance: 13,751.