Pompey 0 Ipswich 1

Michael Chopra fires the Tractor Boys  in front after Daryl Murphy's header rebounded off Pompey's post in the 13th minute
Michael Chopra fires the Tractor Boys in front after Daryl Murphy's header rebounded off Pompey's post in the 13th minute
Conor Chaplin and Brett Pitman. Picture: Shaun Boggust

Fans have say on Pompey attack debate

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Acourt hearing on Friday will adjudge whether Pompey have the right to go into administration.

Failing that, the courts will rule whether the Blues will cease to exist on Monday.

Yet, as the fans have so emphatically insisted, this club will never die.

Pompey’s future may have been wrestled out of their hands and passed into the grasp of High Court judges.

This is no final chapter, though.

‘We will never die’ chorused Fratton Park during the second half against Ipswich last night.

What’s more, it was repeated and encored for up to 50 minutes after the final whistle, as more than 1,000 fans stayed behind in the Fratton end to make their feelings known.

A typically defiant message from these fans who continue to suffer, yet refuse to throw in the towel and slope away.

It mattered not that their team produced a desperately-disappointing performance against the Tractor Boys.

Michael Appleton’s men were well below-par, wearing the look of an exhausted side facing one game too many.

Conceivably, the constant off-the-field woes may have also finally intruded on their mind-set.

It has certainly been admirable how they have ploughed on regardless of wage issues, squad size and now administration.

For the Pack the Park campaign last night, 14,330 attended Fratton Park.

Many stayed behind for a peaceful sit-in, demonstrating against the latest mismanagement which has left their club on the brink.

Earlier in the night, the players demonstrated their support for the fans by donning white 12th Man T-shirts during their pre-match warm-up.

Meanwhile, watching from the directors’ box were David Lampitt and financial director John Redgate.

The positions of both will surely come under most scrutiny should administration be approved and administrator Andrew Andronikou waltz back into town.

If this was indeed their final match in charge, it wasn’t a happy one, with Ipswich comfortable winners in all but scoreline.

Granted, there was second-half controversy when referee Darren Deadman adjudged Greg Halford’s long throw had entered the net without a touch.

But Paul Jewell’s side were deserved winners and only the post and wasteful finishing denied them a larger triumph.

If defeat wasn’t bad enough, Liam Lawrence and Greg Halford both limped out of the action early.

As if Appleton can afford any more blows to his paper-thin squad.

In fact, for the third match in succession, the Blues boss named the same starting XI.

Similarly, the substitutes were also unchanged, with David Norris and Luke Varney still not ready to return from injury.

Among Pompey’s side were all three of Ipswich’s January transfer targets.

It was Stephen Henderson and Joel Ward, though, who came closest to a Portman Road switch on transfer deadline day.

Yet their preference to remain at Fratton Park left Jewell empty handed and both lined-up against him last night.

When the match got under way, Pompey had a scare in the sixth minute when the visitors struck the bar.

Andy Drury delivered a free-kick from deep which picked out Damien Delaney lurking at the back post, and his header bounced off the top of the crossbar.

Moments later, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ fizzing long-range shot went through the arms of Stephen Henderson, much to the keeper’s embarrassment.

But the ball bounced kindly as it squeezed past him towards an empty net, enabling the Irishman to gather safely.

It came as no surprise when the Tractor Boys did break the deadlock on 13 minutes.

A ball was delivered from the right, and when Daryl Murphy’s header hit the right-hand post, Chopra was on hand to net from close range.

It was ragged stuff from the hosts as the first half continued to pan out, with Ipswich dominating.

Yet Marko Futacs had a golden opportunity to equalise against the run of play in the 25th minute.

Carlos Edwards made a hash of a clearance inside the six-yard box, mis-controlling the ball, and when it fell to Futacs he lashed a left-foot effort over the bar from eight yards out.

Pompey were happy to reach the interval with just one goal in it, although they had lost Lawrence to injury.

Appleton’s men were similarly sluggish after the break, although they produced a fine move on 55 minutes.

Futacs controlled a long ball and laid it off into the path of Kelvin Etuhu, who delivered a wonderful first-time cross to the far post.

It picked out Erik Huseklepp on the far post but, rather than shooting, he opted to lay the ball back and the moment had passed.

The hosts nearly went two down on 63 minutes when a corner from the right prompted a scramble inside the box, with Murphy narrowly failing to squeeze the ball home at the far post.

Minutes later, Lee Martin should have increased their lead when Murphy pulled the ball back from the left.

But the midfielder blazed his first-time shot over from inside the box.

Pompey thought they had the equaliser on 72 minutes when Halford flung in a long throw, before Dave Kitson claimed the final touch over the line.

But Deadman adjudged there had been no contact and the goal was not allowed to stand.

At the other end, the Blues were looking vulnerable on the counter-attack and on 76 minutes Martin rattled the post with an angled drive.

Another rendition of ‘We will never die’ rang out as the final whistle sounded.

And you couldn’t help but agree with the Fratton supporters who display such unwavering loyalty for their club in the most depressing of circumstances.