If this really was Marc Wilson’s farewell party, there couldn’t have been a more fitting swansong.
Granted, a penalty shoot-out pass the parcel may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
But when the music stopped, it was Richard Hughes who emerged the victor.
Having overseen Wilson’s development, regularly shared a car to training from Bournemouth tADVERTISEMENT ogether and spent more time at Fratton Park than any other players, it was apt.
Midfield mentor and apprentice on the field for one very last time.
As ever, Hughes had to have the last word. The fact remains Wilson is unlikely to see out the week at the club he joined from Ireland seven years ago.
Stoke appears to be the final destination, although West Brom and Fulham are also hovering.
Regardless, the 22-year-old turned out against Crystal Palace last night, retaining the captain’s armband.
He proceeded to turn in another classy display, this time in his favoured defensive-midfield position.
Wilson’s last kick was to be Pompey’s second penalty of the night, a thunderous finish in typical nerveless fashion.
Then, when victory was sealed and celebrations savoured, it was back off down the tunnel one last time.
There was no emotional goodbye from the Irishman, no fond salute to the fans he was leaving behind. Not that we should be surprised.
As ever in his approach, his exit from the field was understated, with the minimum of fuss and without the slightest hint of sentiment.
That’s Marc Wilson for you – a home-grown talent with a long Premier League future ahead of him.
The Carling Cup provided him with his Pompey debut back in September 2008, during a 4-0 home hammering at the hands of Chelsea.
Not even two years later and the same competition would prove to be the full stop to that Blues career.
The majority of last night’s 8,412 crowd may not have realised – but Wilson certainly did.
Afterwards, Cotterill himself admitted as much, with Stoke closing in and Andrew Andronikou still eager to raise cash.
Mind you, it was jolly nice of the sponsors’ man of the match committee to mark the occasion by giving the honour to the former Academy starlet.
That mantle should surely have gone to Michael Brown. Then again, perhaps it was the sentimental vote which swung it.
Regardless, Brown was at his pesky best against Palace’s young side, producing a display reminiscent of his Liverpool star turn last season.
He upstaged Wilson in emphatic fashion as he finally roared back to form after so long languishing in the doldrums.
It has not been a good season in terms of form for the ex-Wigan midfielder.
Last night was different, though, as he ushered Pompey into the third round of the Carling Cup in his own inimitable way.
That and also scoring their first penalty of the night in the shoot out.
Yet while there was a happy ending, for 45 minutes it was a case of Preston re-visited as Cotterill’s men re-enacted their Deepdale horror show.
Lifeless and devoid of invention and ideas, it made for a drab first half which had fans reaching to stifle their yawns.
It was Wilson who had the hosts’ only effort on goal, a long-range free kick which was comfortably gathered by Julian Speroni.
After the break, though, they finally found their voice.
Of course, a goal on 57 minutes helped, and what a goal it was too.
Nugent picked up the ball, surged into the area, wriggled past several defenders before drilling a shot into the bottom corner.
Poor Nugent, he injured his right ankle in the process, ensuring he is a concern to make Saturday’s Cardiff fixture.
Still, that strike removed the monkey off his back and also gave Pompey what had once appeared an unlikely lead.
After that, the belief among Cotterill’s men came flooding back as they began to produce their best spell of the season so far.
Tommy Smith and Carl Dickinson both saw long rangers dealt with well by Speroni, while Smith should have netted from four yards out, only to lift the ball over the bar.
Spurring on was an outstanding performance from Nadir Ciftci from the bench, suddenly all those Pompey woes had been forgotten.
That was until substitute Kieron Cadogan looped in a cross from the right and Sonko somehow sliced his clearance past Jamie Ashdown.
Minutes later, Palace were reduced to 10 men when the otherwise impressive Wilfried Zaha earned a straight red for kicking out at Dickinson.
With no more traumas in extra time, it went down to penalties.
Eventually, it entered sudden death at 3-3, then Adam Barrett missed.
It was then left to Hughes to steal the thunder from his Bournemouth buddy Wilson and net the winning spot kick.
Not that Wilson need mind, he has already left a long impression on the Pompey fans he is about to leave behind.