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Nic Ladds 12th Jan 2009 - 15:57

Portsmouth losing grip on coveted cup

Tony Adams and Portsmouth begin life without Jermain Defoe and it will be interesting to see if Pompey can justify odds of 7/5 without their star striker.

Defoe's controversial move back to Tottenham has left a sour taste in the mouths of Portsmouth fans and staff alike.

Bristol City will be hoping this malaise translates to the pitch on Tuesday night as they are in with a real chance and are priced accordingly at 8/5 with the draw at 21/10.

The first leg ended 0-0 and the same result again is available at odds of 17/2 which given Pompey's lack of firepower may be the bet for many.

Adams could desperately do with something to smile about as Pompey's league form continues to be poor and their best players get targeted by bigger clubs.

Peter Crouch is by far their biggest goal threat and recently publicly committed himself to Portsmouth and will be looking to send the fans into raptures by scoring the first goal at odds of 5/1.

Defoe's departure could be good news for the likes of Dave Nugent and Nwankwo Kanu who should now get a chance to impress and cement a place in the starting line up. If you fancy either of these two to make a good case to Adams for a regular start then respective odds of 7/1 and 8/1 may tempt you.

The holders will need to improve from the first tie if they are to come anywhere near to defend their FA Cup crown and the likes of Papa Bouba-Diop and John Utaka need to start helping out on the goals front from midfield.

The two can be backed at 14/1 and 9/1 to respectively to score the first goal.

Meanwhile Gary Johnson will have instilled a belief in his players that they can win this game.

Their match odds demonstrate how good a chance they have and they come into the game unbeaten in their last three matches.

Nicky Maynard is The Robin's star striker and it is rare he is not on the score sheet when City have a good day. At 6/1 he will certainly have his fans with strike partner Dele Adebola 13/2 to bag the first goal.

At a bigger price, midfielder Marvin Elliot has popped up with his fair share this season and at 16/1 for first goal or 6/1 to score anytime looks a decent bet.

City also have history on their side interestingly, although the sides haven't met since 1992, Portsmouth have never beaten The Robins in any competition in nine encounters.

As this looks like it will again be a tight affair a low scoring encounter is again expected with 1-1 at 5/1 and 1-0 Portsmouth 6/1 with the reverse result 13/2.

Draw half time/draw full time will also be popular at 4/1 although neither side is likely to want extra time due to Pompey fighting to survive and City hoping to make a run for the play-offs.

The feeling is that this could well go to the Championship side as Pompey's minds will be elsewhere and The Robins really do have nothing to lose but on the other hand Adams' side need all the confidence they can muster and a good cup run could be just the ticket to appease the board and fans.

Should the match go to extra time and penalties Portsmouth would be fancied to prevail and as negative as it is no goal scorer at 17/2 looks the bet.

Like Defoe's new club Spurs found out earlier this season, when you sell your best strikers it generally spells trouble and unless Adams can get in some fresh talent it looks like it could be downhill from here for Portsmouth.

Recommendation:
No goal scorer - 17/2

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