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Nic Ladds 12th Feb 2010 - 13:11

Magic of the cup on the South Coast

The spirit of the FA Cup is never more evident than in a tie like this, old rivals meeting for the first time in five years, two leagues apart but nothing to separate them in the betting. Both sets of fans know realistically they won't be in the final; this one is all about bragging rights.

Southampton (13/8) are mid-table in League 1 but they did start with a ten point deficit and had they not; they would be pushing for a play-off place.  They are in good form and confidence will be high, their unbeaten run dates back to 28th December.

Portsmouth (13/8) really is a club in turmoil at the moment, eight points adrift from safety in the league and facing administration.  Although 37 places separate the teams and Portsmouth undoubtedly have the stronger squad, off the pitch issues are what will help Southampton on to a famous victory.

When these two teams last met in 2005, it was in the Premier League and a lot has changed since Pompey ran out 4-1 victors.  Coincidentally the last time Southampton knocked out a top-flight club was 2005 and it was Portsmouth on the receiving end.

Head to head, there have been four previous FA Cup clashes and Southampton have won every single one at the first time of asking, three at home and one away.

The Saints have a good home record this season, unbeaten in nine in front of the St Marys' faithful and with a sell-out crowd expected, it will be vital for the fans to get behind the team. Pompey are on a poor run, winless in five games and just one away win in thirteen attempts - notching just five goals in the process.

Southampton welcome Dean Hammond back from injury but David Connolly and Graeme Murty will sit out. They have a host of new signings cup-tied so they will have to rely on Rickie Lambert to get the first goal (11/2) and youngster Adam Lallana (7/1) provides a good threat.

Pompey will be without new signing Ricardo Rocha after he was sent off on his debut. Last-minute goal hero Aruna Dindane is 6/1 to repeat the last (or first) goal he scored against Sunderland. Danny Webber could be asked to start up front with experience of lower league football (7/1 first goal).

While Pompey struggle to score away in the league, they might fancy getting on the score sheet against a League 1 side therefore both teams to score at 17/20 could be easily achieved. I do think it will be a tight affair though, with maybe just one goal in it with either side to win by one goal at 3/1.

Personally I think Portsmouth are as good as down in the league and could perhaps put a lot of effort in to this cup run to at least give the fans something to smile about so be wary.

This match will mean more to the home fans having not tasted any glory in a long time and they have enough to win it, although it won't be pretty - have a look at the over 55 booking points at 13/10 and the combination of a Southampton win and under 2.5 goals at 18/5.



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