Forty minutes after the final whistle the 1,981 delirious away supporters continued to serenade the victorious Southampton players and their manager, Ralph Hasenhüttl. “Four-nil, in your own backyard” was the haunting, whirring retort on repeat from those fans crammed into the Milton End after a first-half double by Danny Ings set Southampton for their first win here since 1984, before Cédric Soares and Nathan Redmond lashed home to seal victory in an electric derby.
The atmosphere was feverish long before Mike Oldfield’s Portsmouth song filled the terraces of this rickety stadium but in the end the chasm between these sides – 50 places in the league pyramid – was explicitly clear, with a clinical Southampton side profiting where Portsmouth tried and failed; John Marquis clipped a post, Brett Pitman forced Alex McCarthy into a save and Christian Burgess stabbed wide but Southampton ultimately sauntered to victory after a sluggish start. Hasenhüttl was a picture of calm throughout but once a first win over Portsmouth since 2005 was secure he too was happy to soak up the adulation.
“We will not forget this evening,” said the Austrian. “It was a fantastic atmosphere until the end and to score four goals is fantastic. It is more than only reaching the next round, it is about reaching the hearts of the fans. You could feel the tradition that is in this derby. I think I have never had such an atmosphere in a stadium so far and I have seen a lot in my career. A little bit raining, a fighting game and an unbelievable crowd; if you think about English football, then that for me is English football.
“We were sitting in the dressing room and I said they can be very proud of what they have done today because they will never forget this evening. We go home and in the next round, which is fantastic, and at the weekend we have a difficult game against Tottenham [on Saturday] so there is not time for celebrating.”
Portsmouth paraded a few familiar faces at the interval, including Benjani Mwaruwari, David Norris and Joel Ward, who scored the previous time these sides met in 2011. This time the image etched in the memory of Portsmouth supporters will be Ings knee-sliding towards a corner flag in front of the Fratton End.
Ings is part of a new wave of players versed in the age-old antagonism, supposedly born of maritime tensions, including the Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse, a former Fratton Park season-ticket holder. On Portsmouth’s side there were Ben Close, raised a mile from here, and Brandon Haunstrup, from Waterlooville.
But it was the fumes of a red flare that filled the air at full-time as ecstatic Saints supporters threatened to drown out Hasenhüttl’s pitchside media duties. For Kenny Jackett, whose side are without a win in League One since mid-August, it was tough to stomach. “I didn’t want to come away not having a go, just shutting up shop,” he said. “We tried to ruffle them and, if we had got the first goal, it could have been different.”