Plenty of promise

DARIO Silva scored the winning goal for multi-national Portsmouth, but Ipswich were able to find a silver lining to the cloud of their FA Cup exit.Joe Royle's depleted side - with five strikers missing - held their own against Premiership opposition, and on another day could have made their way into the fourth round.

By Elvin King

DARIO Silva scored the winning goal for multi-national Portsmouth, but Ipswich were able to find a silver lining to the cloud of their FA Cup exit.

Joe Royle's depleted side - with five strikers missing - held their own against Premiership opposition, and on another day could have made their way into the fourth round.

The promise shown by three youngsters considerably reduced the pain of going out of the cup at the first hurdle.

Teenagers Shane Supple and Danny Haynes shone brightly, while 20-year-old Scott Barron gave further prove that he is set to be the latest in a long line of Academy graduates to make the grade.

Yes, there is enough talent at Ipswich to be able to look ahead with optimism.

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Nobody likes going out of the FA Cup, the most romantic of all sporting competitions.

And despite the thought of better times ahead, there is little hope that the immediate future will set the pulses racing for Blues supporters.

The New Year may only be in its infancy, but already the last chunk of expectancy for 2006 has gone.

And it looks like being next August before games will have a significant purpose at Portman Road again.

Unless the winning habit can be fashioned around the new signing(s) the manager expects to bring in this week, a cosy mid-table position is what probably awaits Town over the next four months.

There will now be a blank Saturday at the end of the month, and after playing four Championship games in eight days over the holiday period, Ipswich will play just three in the league for the remainder of January.

Town fans were in good spirits on a bleak mid-winter day on Saturday with one particularly inventive chant - describing Portsmouth as a 'small town in Moscow'.

This was reference to the French businessman of Russian origin who is expected to put millions into the pot for manager Harry Redknapp to exploit.

The manager with the mobile shoulders was put in the dark the last time he was at Portman Road - when the floodlights went out during this season's league game against Southampton.

Power was restored eventually, but whether the rascally Redknapp will see the light having since moved back to Fratton Park remains to be seen.

Staying in the Premiership - with the £20million this will bring - is worth considerably more than the £4million or so that a win in the FA Cup would accrue.

So don't expect a lengthy run for the south cost side, who fielded players from ten different countries in their starting line-up.

Redknapp fielded virtually his strongest side - Polish international Emmanual Olisadele's registration did not come through and Andy Griffin was on four yellow cards - and so did Royle.

He kept the same midfield that performed well at Stoke last Monday, and had no alternative than to play Haynes.

But he made two interesting selections in picking Supple and Barron. With Lewis Price now recognised as being match fit,

18-year-old Supple appears to have taken over as the number one keeper in the manager's eyes, while Barron got the nod even though Sito Castro was recovered from injury and able to be on the bench.

Twelve months ago in the home defeat by Bolton Wanderers, Royle opted to give promising defender Scott Mitchell his chance at right back.

It did not work out as well as Barron's baptism in the competition, although Mitchell is now on his way back to fitness following a frustrating injury-hit year.

Haynes has been described as being like a bottle of pop - showing oodles of fizz when unleashed but then slowly going flat.

But this was not the case on Saturday when the 17-year-old was admirable from beginning to end.

He has made fantastic progress in the last few weeks, taking maximum advantage of the long list of injuries suffered by Town.

Haynes kept Premiership defenders at full stretch, and he went perilously close to scoring in the second half when his low effort rolled just wide.

Portsmouth scored with their one serious chance of the game with Uruguayan Silva hanging high in the air to complete a flowing counter attack after Gavin Williams had misplaced a pass.

It was Williams who missed a splendid chance for the home side in the opening period, and the impeccable Jason De Vos glanced a header against the post in the 63rd minute.

Both these chances came after Barron ventured forward, the first time to cross well, and the second to be fouled leading to a Darren Currie free-kick.

Lomana Lua Lua was a lively customer in his last Pompey game before representing the Democratic Republic of Congo in the African Cup of Nations.

The ex-Colchester United striker's finishing did not match his approach play, but he was by far the best the visitors had to offer with their defence often at full stretch against Town's makeshift attack.

Town had not played Portsmouth in the FA Cup before, and going against the trend of the Football League in the winter months Saturday's game was played with a white ball.

Surely with two of the following in the side - plus Haynes perhaps - Ipswich would have scored one goal at least and be on their way to Fratton Park next week for a replay - the injured Sam Parkin, Nicky Forster, Dean Bowditch, Adam Proudlock and the cup-tied Dean McDonald.

One man who would have surely found the net was Ray Crawford, who played for Ipswich and Portsmouth and scored a hatful of goals when Town won the Football League in 1961/62.

He was the guest of Portman Road chairman David Sheepshanks and was introduced to the fans before the start.

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