Birmingham 1 Pompey 0

Joel Ward, who went close for Pompey in the first half at St Andrew's, is left floored after Birmingham's late winner Picture: Allan Hutchings
Joel Ward, who went close for Pompey in the first half at St Andrew's, is left floored after Birmingham's late winner Picture: Allan Hutchings
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett has been looking for the right blend of youth and experience. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss bidding for right blend

0
Have your say

Footballers playing without pay, being led by a manager working without pay.

Watching were club staff toiling away without pay.

This is Pompey, on its knees and attempting to crawl free from the abyss.

Yet together it continues to fight.

At St Andrew’s last night, it took Nathan Redmond’s goal four minutes from time to settle the fixture.

For 86 minutes Michael Appleton’s men gave a gutsy display they and Pompey fans can be truly proud of.

Like the supporters who continue to rally round the club in its time of need, those footballers wearing the star and crescent have not given up.

The bigger picture, though, remains more crucial than a single football match.

The club’s bank account remains frozen with still no validation order secured, bills and staff need paying, fresh owners must be discovered and there is a winding-up hearing with the HMRC in just 12 days’ time.

As for those stalking the Fratton Park corridors of power who hold the club’s future in their hands, the supporters are hoping they can unearth a solution.

And unearth it before it is too late.

As it is, chief executive David Lampitt either declines to comment or is unavailable to talk to The News at a time when questions need answering.

Meanwhile, administrator Andrew Andronikou – whose exact role with Pompey still needs clarifying – has sought financing from Portsmouth County Council in another attempt to keep the club afloat.

An indication surely there is no longer the queue of interested parties that has long been claimed.

A meeting with the council then but not with Pompey Supporters’ Trust, despite Andronikou claiming he has now agreed to meet fans.

As for Balram Chainrai, there was no sign of him at St Andrew’s in the hope he is prepared to put much-needed funds in.

Also not visible are January’s wages for club staff that the former Pompey owner had claimed in a recent interview to have covered. Regardless, the debenture holder is back in the country.

The signs are that the end game is looming.

In whatever form, it remains to be seen, but time is rapidly running out to save this football club.

Of course, last night was about football. In the here and now Pompey lost 1-0 at a promotion-chasing side yet to lose at home all season.

The future, however, remains frightening.

Still, Appleton’s troops deserve tremendous credit for a typically-spirited display with a hard-earned point snatched away from them late on.

Selection-wise, it was same again for Pompey as Appleton was able to field the team which destroyed Peterborough so admirably in their previous match.

The only change to the squad saw Aaron Mokoena back on the bench following a hamstring injury.

He replaced Ryan Williams, the only Fratton Park departure on January transfer deadline day.

Elsewhere, David Norris was still suspended, while Kanu and Luke Varney were not yet ready to return following injuries.

Not that Appleton was ever likely to tinker with a side which shone so brightly in the previous match against the Posh.

That meant Erik Huseklepp once more operating just behind Marko Futacs in attack, with Dave Kitson again on the bench.

Pompey had a scare after just three minutes following a terrific cross from Jordon Mutch down the left.

His deep ball to the far post was met with a half-volley from Marlon King which was cleared off the line by Ricardo Rocha.

On eight minutes, the visitors had their first attempt on goal, although Hayden Mullins’ 25-yard drive was comfortably wide.

Kelvin Etuhu then surged down the right and delivered an intelligent pull back from the byline which picked out Marko Futacs perfectly.

Unfortunately for Appleton’s men, the Hungarian’s first-time shot from inside the box flashed well over the bar.

Steadily, Pompey began to come into the game but it was Birmingham asking most of the questions on a bitterly cold night in the midlands.

Sure enough, on 40 minutes Pompey carved out the best opportunity for either side so far.

Etuhu again did well down the right and he squared to Joel Ward inside the penalty area.

The youngster attempted to place his shot, only for Boaz Myhill to finger-tip the ball away and Curtis Davies to come across and clear as Huseklepp closed in to tap home.

As the half drew to a close, Greg Halford countered down the left and fed Futacs, whose lay-off was blazed wide by Mullins from long distance.

Birmingham came out after the break in determined fashion and swiftly began to dominate.

It was dogged stuff from the away side as they dug in to keep the hosts at bay during some testing moments.

Yet it was Tal Ben Haim who almost gifted Chris Hughton’s men the lead with 67 minutes on the clock.

His sloppy backpass was picked up by Adam Rooney but with just Stephen Henderson to beat, his shot was saved.

Moments later, Mutch clipped the outside of the post from long range as the promotion-chasers continued to press.

Birmingham did break the deadlock, however, in spectacular style through Redmond.

In the 86th minute, a ball was delivered inside the Pompey penalty and the youngster produced a classy right-foot swivel and volley.

It was heartbreaking stuff for the 488 travelling fans and those other Pompey followers across the globe.

The biggest worry, however, is that there is more heartbreak around the corner. And this time, more than a football match is at stake.