Zoko brace for Stevenage knocks Portsmouth out of FA Cup

Francois Zoko on the ball for Stevenage

Francois Zoko on the ball for Stevenage - Credit: Archant

Two first half strikes from Stevenage goal-machine Francois Zoko knocked two-time FA Cup winners Portsmouth out of the competition 2-1 at The Lamex Stadium this afternoon.

Jimmy Smith of Stevenage makes a tackle

Jimmy Smith of Stevenage makes a tackle - Credit: Archant

It was an unhappy return to the club for former Boro trio Patrick Agyemang, Bondz N’Gala and Gavin Mahon, who was also sent off for a second half elbow on Felipe Morais.

Stevenage boss Graham Westley was not barking out the orders in the dugout having undergone a throat operation in the week, but he will have been delighted with the result.

Within minutes of kick-off League Two side Portsmouth almost took the lead as Jed Wallace received the ball on the edge of the Boro box and fired a low effort against the base of keeper Chris Day’s right hand post.

Pompey were the busier of the two sides in the opening five minutes, however in their first attack Stevenage went ahead.

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On eight minutes the hosts’ QPR loanee Bruno Andrade had his first chance to stretch his legs, he got the better of Joe Devera on the right flank and crossed into the box.

A scramble ensued with Morais and Akins having a stab at the ball before Zoko found space to slam home.

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At the other end Portsmouth created chances, but struggled to get them on target.

Agyemang fired wide from 12 yards and should have done better before Andy Barcham shot just inches over after cutting in from the right as Portsmouth looked to get back on level terms.

However, with six minutes to go until the break Boro doubled their advantage.

A high, long ball forward was flicked on by Akins to dangerman Zoko.

With plenty of work to do, he got the better of two defenders before rifling home his second of the afternoon past keeper Trevor Carson.

Just before the break Portsmouth had a rare shot on target which fell for ex-Stevenage loan man Mahon.

A Wallace free-kick was cleared to him and his firm drive from 20 yards was arrowed straight to Day.

Portsmouth’s hopes of getting back in the game were hit at the start of the second period as Mahon’s blatant elbow on Morais rightly earned him a straight red card.

After being seeing their opponents reduced to 10-men, Boro sat back and invited pressure.

A deep cross from the right by Pompey’s Ryan Bird picked out Barcham whose weak effort was at Day.

Soon after Ashton appeared to catch Portsmouth substitute David Connelly with an arm to the face, but nothing was given despite the claims from the Pompey fans.

Boro played on the break and went close as Simon Heslop won the ball in the middle, fed Akins who played a pass to Zoko, who on his hat-trick was denied by Carson.

With just under 30 minutes left Bird got clear of Ashton, however from wide he fired well off target.

Pompey got themselves back into the tie with 20 minutes to play.

Barcham raced into the box, his cross was deflected to Bird who directed the ball goalwards and it was tapped home by Connelly.

A wonderful left wing cross from Freeman took a nick off a defender in front of Zoko, who could not adjust enough to direct his header goalwards on 76 minutes.

Five minutes of injury time were added on in which the away side piled on the pressure.

A succession of three corners were dealt with by the home side as they held on for the win and a place in the next round of the cup.

Stevenage: Day, Smith, Ashton, Jones, Freeman, Morais (Deacon 83mins), Doughty, Heslop, Andrade (Tansey 67mins), Zoko (Burrow 90mins), Akins. Subs: Arnold, Wedgebury, Parrett, Tounkara.

Portsmouth: Carson, Moutaouakil (East 45mins), Bradley, Ertl (Holmes 72mins), N’Gala, Devera, Barcham, Mahon, Wallace, Agyemang (Connelly 45mins), Bird. Subs: Smith, Craddock, Painter, Cooper.

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