STOKE CITY'S hopes of progressing through to the quarter finals of the Carling Cup were sunk on the south coast by French striker Frederic Piquionne as Portsmouth ran out comfortable 4-0 winners of the fourth round tie at Fratton Park.
Piquionne struck two of the goals while fellow strike pair Danny Webber and Kanu were also on target as Tony Pulis' much-changed line-up found the going tough against a Pompey side eager to forget their Premier League struggle.
Any hopes that the Potters had of battling their way back into the game after Piquionne had opened the scoring in the 17th minute were effectively killed off by two more goals from the home side in the space of three minutes in the second half.
The Frenchman then had the satisfaction of delivering the pass through for former Arsenal star Kanu to waltz round Simonsen and add the fourth.
As expected, Pulis rang the changes with goalkeeper Steve Simonsen the only survivor from the historic win at Tottenham at the weekend, so it was a chance for many of the fringe players to impress once again in the competition.
Skipper Andy Griffin was the first to do so . . . the scorer of an injury time winner in the last round producing a goal-line clearance to prevent Piquionne giving Pompey a ninth minute lead after he had burst through ontoa Webber pass.
It was the home side who were exerting much of the pressure on the City defence and they got their reward in the 17th minute when Aruna Dindane picked out Piquionne with his left wing cross and the striker planted his header past Simonsen.
Picquionne had another opportunity to stretch Portsmouth's lead on the half hour when Hassan Yebda pulled the ball back to him just inside the box but on this occasion he blazed his shot high over the bar, much to the Potters' relief.
City's attacking moments were few and far between and Liam Lawrence tried his luck from long range on two occasions but failed to trouble Jamie Ashdown.
There were one or two glimpses which suggested that City would have more luck attacking the end where their supporters were situated in the second half, but they were stunned by two more Portsmouth goals within the space of three minutes.
Webber struck the first in the 56th minute when he latched onto a Michael Brown pass, slipped one defender and then fired a low shot past Simonsen.
And then Piquionne had the simple task of tapping home his second of the night after Simonsen could not claim a free kick swung into the area by Brown.
The double strike was particularly frustrating for Mama Sidibe, who had only just come into the action as a replacement for David Kitson, so marking his return to first team football following a long lay-off with a knee ligament injury.
City pressed for a goal that might spark a fightback and Griffin's fine run down the right teed up a far post chance with two City players inches from applying the finishing touch before another cross from Diego Arismendi caused more problems in the home defence.
But that was just a glimmer of hope and with nine minutes remaining they found themselves falling further behind as Piquionne seized upon a misplaced pass and slipped the ball through to Kanu who made it look so easy as he rounded Simonsen to score.