Pompey 0 Bury 1

Jed Wallace. ''Picture: Joe Pepler
Jed Wallace. ''Picture: Joe Pepler
Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey 1 Southend 0: They said what

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Twelve days to go.

Twelve days until we can finally forget this godforsaken season ever took place.

And 12 days in which we can allow events off the pitch to leave what’s taking place on it firmly in the shade.

Not that it’s difficult, of course.

Even the boos which greeted the full-time whistle of this lacklustre affair were half-hearted.

The Blues faithful were dragged from their sunny slumber and idle chats about who they fancy as their club’s next manager just long enough to deliver some murmurs of discontent.

Then it was back to the real business.

Fancy Neil Warnock? I’ve heard he’s saying it’s his if he wants it.

Yeh, but what about Ian Holloway? He’d be a perfect fit for Pompey and would get us going.

Phil Brown, Darren Ferguson, Martin Allen and the emerging Paul Cook.

Throw them all into the hat with the rest.

The late-season narrative doesn’t lie on the Fratton field of dreams.

But, off it, the tale’s being firmly developed in the corridors of power in and around that famous mock Tudor facade on Frogmore Road that we all love.

There’s some kerfuffle about the public having their say about who runs things next month.

Over at portsmouth.co.uk the real vote is taking place, and it’s Holloway they are stating they want to run the show by a fair distance.

Those voices were considered when it came to Andy Awford becoming the 33rd man to be unseated from power last week.

Chief executive Mark Catlin has revealed there are 70 serious applicants who have put their hat in the ring to succeed him – and the names in the frame make for impressive reading.

This week the field will take shape, as the whittling-down process gains momentum.

In the meantime, it’s meagre fair to sustain us on it.

Chairman Iain McInnes spoke about the bleakness of a season meandering.

It’s only the glimpse into the future caretaker boss Gary Waddock is offering, which is keeping the campaign from stopping dead.

Pompey legend Alan Knight was asked after the game how he managed to bring the game to life in his radio commentary role.

‘20,000 volts wouldn’t have brought the game to life,’ was his typically deadpan reply.

The match’s laid-back demeanour actually suited Pompey, who started in comfortable fashion.

Their fluid short passing and control of tempo spoke of a side playing with the shackles off.

Concerns over James Dunne’s knee paved the way for Fratton teenager Ben Close to be handed his full league debut.

He was one of three changes to the side who went down at Stevenage.

Close’s place at the base of a midfield diamond suited his economical use of the ball well.

It also presented Jed Wallace with the chance to cause problems with the deep-lying runs which are his stock-in-trade.

The set-up and freedom prompted Bury boss David Flitcroft into a tactical change, as he sacrificed Bolton loanee Tom Eaves for veteran Ryan Lowe after 35 minutes.

And it paid off, as the substitute found the breakthrough 10 minutes later.

‘Portsmouth played with freedom in the first half and fluidity – and we couldn’t deal with it,’ the Shakers boss admitted afterwards.

His players later admitted it was a smash-and-grab success for their side.

It was a slightly generous assessment, because, for all of Pompey’s control, there was little in the way of clear-cut chances.

A few Wallace-inspired efforts were what it amounted to, as the impressive young Shakers keeper, Nick Pope, showed why he hasn’t been beaten for over 10 hours on the road.

Waddock’s back line were equal to the sporadic threat at the other end, with Adam Webster impressing alongside Nyron Nosworthy’s robust experience.

Nosworthy’s last-ditch effort to deny Eaves a certain goal in the 16th minute was a highlight.

But Pompey’s brittle underbelly was exposed on the stroke of half-time, as Lowe was given breath-taking freedom to do as he pleased with Joe Riley’s delivery.

He accepted the gift with a simple nod past the helpless Paul Jones.

It gave the promotion-chasers the daylight they needed – and they capitalised on it with ruthless efficiency.

Flitcroft has established a well-drilled outfit on a budget comparable to the one the Pompey fans’ loyalty has afforded their side this season.

Bury never looked like letting go of a club-record seventh away success, as they broke the game up and refused their opposition any momentum.

Joe Devera and young dynamo Conor Chaplin combined to give Danny Hollands a sight of goal with 10 minutes left.

Pope’s bravery saw him snuff out the threat as he put his head where the boots go in.

And that, for Pompey, was that.

There was the gladdening sight of Academy prospect Adam May gaining his first senior minutes late on.

Being just 17, May wasn’t around to witness Euro 96.

While the man he replaced, Close, was a 12-year-old at Wembley when Sol Campbell lifted the FA Cup for Pompey in 2008.

But their youthful vibrancy alongside Chaplin is quite literally the only thing keeping Pompey’s campaign going on the pitch.

Jack Whatmough’s knee, which is being opened up today, stops him from lowering the team’s average age.

Waddock pointed out that even established first-teamers like Dan Butler, Wallace and Webster bring additional home-grown youthfulness to the table.

Seeing as many of them as possible wearing the the star and crescent on their chest at senior level, will offer a positive distraction over the final two games.

That, and the other business of finding the man to guide them forward, will keep us busy for now.

And then we can conveniently forget the past nine months ever took place.