Morecambe 2 Pompey 2

Morecambe keeper Barry Roche flaps at a Pompey cross. Picture: Joe Pepler
Morecambe keeper Barry Roche flaps at a Pompey cross. Picture: Joe Pepler
Samantha Quayle. Picture: Jordan Hampton

Flying start for Pompey with Cardiff swept aside

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He left the quagmire of a Globe Arena pitch with a hobble.

But Jed Wallace could also hear the throaty appreciation of 846 frozen Pompey fans singing his name.

If this was to be goodbye, it was a fitting farewell.

The teenage midfielder had just put in a performance of a young man with a promising future.

More importantly, however, it was one which underlined his undying commitment to the club who gave him a chance in the game.

Caked in mud, carrying a hip injury and with his face daubed in pitch-marking paint from putting his head where it hurts, it was a definitive riposte to those had questioned whether his heart was in Pompey’s cause.

A player pulling out of tackles? A footballer with a question mark over his professionalism? Not this one.

Those slurs would have been the ones to hurt the 20-year-old in recent days.

It was a world away from the unfortunate sequence of events which led to boos ringing in his ears seven days previously.

Those sad scenes against Mansfield belong in the past.

What we saw on the weather-beaten Lancashire coastline was a display of grit and promise – which echoed his team’s efforts.

And had it not been for a moment Trevor Carson will want to quickly consign to a forgotten keeper blooper reel, it would have yielded the second maximum of the Richie Barker era.

Carson supplied the press with their hero to zero lines after a full-length first-half penalty save from Padraig Amond.

It looked as if Jack Redshaw’s shot barely had the bluster to reach the back of the net with 14 minutes remaining.

But it managed to find it’s way home via a horrible fumbled effort from the former Sunderland man.

‘He’s said if their player hits that shot another 100 times he saves it,’ said Barker in the Northern Irishman’s defence afterwards.

‘But he’s admitted to his mistake.’

You could look to the state of the pitch in mounting a defence for Carson but the reality is there’s no debate it’s a save he should have made.

There was no question either that Morecambe’s playing surface was sub-Sunday league standard, let alone Football League.

It might have been okay for farming animals or, in some areas, building a sandcastle or two but it didn’t lend itself to cohesive football.

It’s doubtful those who had made the 600-mile round trip north fancied a wasted journey, though, so referee Andrew Haines’ call the game would go ahead despite the pre-match downpours and biting wind was greeted with relief.

The trade-off was a pitch which was kryptonite to any efforts to get the ball down and play.

Perfect for a Ronnie Radford-inspired FA Cup upset but certainly not a passing game.

So it was a credit to both outfits they delivered a riveting first 45 minutes full of goals, guts and gale-force gusts.

It took 10 minutes for Jake Jervis to announce himself as the marksman who can make a difference for Barker’s men over the remainder of the season.

Those who saw him put Pompey to the sword in Carlisle’s colours 17 months ago and witnessed glimpses of his quality in a loan spell at Fratton Park, had already had their appetite whetted.

The hunger Jervis showed to feast on Wallace’s tantalising delivery offered further encouragement.

Likewise, the way he gobbled up the impressive Marcos Painter’s ball across goal three minutes before the break.

Searing pace and that rare ability to scare defenders and force them on the back foot proffered further reasons to be cheerful for the Fratton faithful.

But what it meant for Jervis to be back on a pitch scoring goals after nine months in the football wilderness was the brightest news for Pompey fans.

Those huddled behind Shrimps keeper Barry Roche’s goal saw from a few yards the joy and hunger in the bulging whites of Jervis’ eyes as he celebrated.

Barker has a man with a point to prove on his hands.

It’s a similar story between the sticks for all-together different reasons.

Sonny Bradley’s collision with Amond in the box after 38 minutes gave Carson the chance to take centre stage.

That he emphatically did with a sprawling leap to his right to keep out the Shrimps striker’s well-struck effort.

All was very different 14 minutes from time, however, as another entry was added to the lengthy series of Pompey goalkeeping gaffes this season.

By that time the cutting edge, marauding wing-play and overlaps which had been the hallmark of the Blues’ first half had dissipated.

They had still looked a good bet to hold on to all three points, however, with Joe Devera, in particular, helping his increasingly-organised defence to stand firm.

So a bitter-sweet afternoon for Barker and his men but one which delivers encouragement and puts another point between his side and the drop zone.

Predictably, attention now turns to affairs off the pitch and Wallace ahead of the trip to Wycombe.

Peterborough’s bid is the only written offer on the table for the Blues’ prized asset at present.

But is a move to London Road going to the right one for the Reading-born lad?

And, more significantly, is the offer on the table the right one for Pompey?

The figure of around £200,000 which has been mentioned is measured to test the board.

Jumping at that would also leave it’s own imprint on a hierarchy who need to avoid being seen as a soft touch in their first tentative steps of a new era.

With a club the size of Wolves also said to be on the prowl, it may just pay both club and player to sit tight for the time being.

And if that wait goes to the end of the season, Pompey, with a bid received, have a strong case to present to any tribunal when it comes to the level of training compensation.

Still, in typical Fratton fashion, it provided an off-pitch narrative to ride pillion with events on it.

David Connolly’s omission from the squad after his game-changing cameo against Mansfield added another element. The conspiracy theorists were painting their own picture over the facts presented by Barker on that one.

Injury and a failure to train all week were the simple reasons forwarded for his omission.

But those words were laced with a mild irritation at the focus on a man with nothing to do with a largely encouraging display, when pushed further.

It was a reaction with some merit for a Yorkshireman who is seeing a steadily-improving playing response to his leadership.