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Forest Green 1 Portsmouth 3: Pompey too strong for Rovers

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Forest Green were knocked out of the EFL Cup after a 3-1 home defeat to League One Portsmouth despite taking the lead on Tuesday evening.

The Nailsworth side were in front in the 24th minute, Tyrese Omotoye scoring the first goal of the David Horseman era, but two goals from Kasimi Yengi and one from Zak Swanson saw the Hampshire side comfortably through to the second round. 

Rovers started brightly and were deserved of their lead when Omotoye fired under the Portsmouth keeper to score his first goal for the club, but the visitors were level six minutes later when debutant keeper Jamie Searle made a mess of his attempt to claim a deep corner, allowing Yengi to bungle home for his first goal of the evening.

Right back Zak Swanson put Portsmouth ahead in the second half, evading his tracker into the right hand space of the penalty area before lifting a finish beyond Searle at the near post.

Yengi bagged his second from the penalty spot with 17 minutes left after Jamie Robson was adjudged to have fouled Abu Kamara once the Portsmouth winger had beaten him on the inside.

Rovers held their own for much of the 90 minutes against a side a division above them, albeit a much changed one, and showed their compactness and ability to flood forward on the counter attack, but their visitors had just enough firepower to progress to the second round.

GAFFER TAPES WITH LAURIE MARTIN / FGR

Keeper Searle, Darnell Johnson and Dylan Kadji all made their full debuts for Rovers and Harvey Bunker earned his first start of the season. Ryan Inniss was left out of the matchday squad as a precaution and Matty Taylor failed a late fitness test, paving the way for Matty Stevens and Omotoye to make back-to-back starts up front.

Anthony Scully was the only starter to keep his place for Portsmouth as manager John Mousinho made 10 changes from the side that drew 1-1 to Bristol Rovers on the weekend.

Bunker had Rovers’ first chance of the match on eight minutes, picking up the ball on the edge of the area before firing just wide of Ryan Schofield’s right-hand post.

The home side had to be resolute in defence to keep out a flurry of Portsmouth set-pieces a few minutes later and Searle was forced into an impressive reaction save with his left arm from Yengi’s powerful header.

On 24 minutes, Bunker slid in well to leave Teddy Jenks space to attack, before his ball down the right wing found Omotoye, the striker cleverly using stepovers before shifting onto his right foot and firing a powerful low strike across Ryan Schofield, who could only parry into the net to give Rovers their first goal of the season and Omotoye his first in 14 appearances.

It took just six minutes for Portsmouth to respond, Searle misjudging an in swinging corner which fell beyond him and leaving Yengi the chance to scramble the ball into an unguarded net.

Portsmouth looked threatening down the left-hand side throughout the first half, Jack Sparkes’ surges forward causing problems for Rovers’ right hand side and the Portsmouth left back was unlucky not to find a teammate with a low driven ball right across the six-yard area that evaded everybody before a teasing cross was headed wide from Teddy Devlin on the stroke of half time.

There was a bizarre delay to the start of the second 45 as a couple of ball boys decided to wander back to their positions the wrong way around the perimeter of the pitch, finally settling into their seats after a slow jog around three of the touchlines. Rovers were straight out of the traps despite the delay and Kadji found space opening up in front of him on the edge of the area before forcing Schofield to tip the ball out for a corner inside 60 seconds.

On 52 minutes, sloppy play in the centre of Forest Green’s midfield allowed Christian Saydee to switch play to Abu Kamara who played Swanson in behind the Rovers defence, the right back’s cool lofted finish evading Searle at the near post to put the South coast side ahead for the first time in the match.

Rovers regrouped from falling behind and intricate passing stemmed from smart positioning to give Bunker two opportunities to get a shot off on the edge of the box, both forcing a Schofield save with the second kept out at full stretch as the ball headed to the top left corner. 

Substitute Robson was unfortunate to give away a penalty in the 73rd minute, after being beaten inside the area by Kamara before he left a hand on the Pompey winger who went down under small contact, allowing Yengi to fire into the top corner from the spot for his third goal in two appearances.

Omotoye had a left-footed shot saved well by Schofield low to his left with nine minutes to go, but the League One visitors held on to ensure their progression. Their control of the final minutes of normal time was demonstrated by the audible groans from the home support as the fourth official announced 11 minutes of added time.

The second round draw will take place tomorrow evening after the conclusion of Burton Albion’s game with Leicester City, with the 12 Premier League teams not playing in Europe this season due to be added.

Attention will turn back to League Two for Forest Green, who travel to Harrogate on Saturday afternoon hoping to kick start their 23/24 season after two promising but unrewarded home results. 

Forest Green:

20 Jamie Searle

19 Sean Robertson

15 Jordan Moore-Taylor 

4 Darnell Johnson

2 Dom Bernard (c)

27 Harvey Bunker

8 Charlie McCann

6 Teddy Jenks

16 Dylan Kadji

9 Matty Stevens

23 Tyrese Omotoye (goal 24’)

17 Jamie Robson (replaced Robertson on 62 minutes)

7 Kyle McAllister (replaced Kadji on 62 minutes)

18 Jacob Maddox (replaced Stevens on 75 minutes)

28 Callum Jones (replaced McCann on 75 minutes)

32 Jack Carter (replaced Moore-Taylor on 86 minutes)

41 Fiachra Pagel (unused substitute)

44 Murphy Bennett (unused substitute)

34 Zack McKenzie (unused substitute)

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