Tomorrow looking bleak for Pompey heroes of yesterday

Danny Rose, right, in action for Pompey reserves against Bristol City in the Central League Cup Picture: Colin Farmery

The youngster balancing on the silver and blue scooter circumnavigated the makeshift track with seasoned ease.

Offered gaping space under the glare of Gosport Borough’s main stand, the prized opportunity to put the foot down and drive was embraced with unrestrained relish.

Danny Rose, centre, celebrates the Blues League Two title win with Kyle Bennett and Noel Hunt Picture: Joe Pepler

Elsewhere, the occupant of a pink scooter opted for a stationary stance, favouring watching the football match unfolding amid skies bearing the blackest of moods.

The attendance numbered 230, half-term timing ensuring many of the Privett Park crowd were children of school age, eager to watch Pompey in action on local turf, regardless of fixture status.

On Tuesday, the Blues’ reserve side ventured to Gosport for a group B encounter with Bristol City in the Central League Cup.

Their youthful opponents featured only Max O’Leary with first-team experience, with the keeper having played twice in the FA Cup for the club in January 2016. He subsequently turned out for Kidderminster and Bath City in loan spells.

As for the hosts, a stand-out name among a strong starting line-up was skipper for the occasion – Danny Rose.

It was five-and-a-half months ago when the central midfielder served as an instrumental cog in the Pompey side who captured the League Two title at the death.

He started that 6-1 triumph over Cheltenham which entered Fratton folklore as the club became only the fifth in Football League history to claim titles in each of the four divisions.

Yet since facing Wigan in August, Rose has totalled just 30 minutes of first-team action in league competition.

Instead, a gloomy Privett Park provided the stage to launch into a timely reminder of his talents.

Unfortunately, the audience didn’t include either Kenny Jackett or his assistant, Joe Gallen.

How swiftly footballing fortunes can alter.

Rose isn’t alone, of course. The June arrival of Jackett and the necessity to deliver a squad capable of adjusting to the demands of League One has seen others similarly put in the shade.

The former Wolves boss possesses no loyalty to those players inherited from Paul Cook. He has his own challenges to fulfil and different bosses to appease.

As a consequence, Gary Roberts was marginalised in pre-season during his ushering towards the exit, while Carl Baker was also allowed to depart.

Some of those regulars who have remained in terms of Kal Naismith, Gareth Evans and, until recently, Kyle Bennett, have struggled for game time. That tally also includes Rose.

With 48 appearances and five goals for the Blues, the 29-year-old faces an almighty scrap to extend his Fratton Park stay beyond his summer 2018 contract expiry. In fact, it remains to be seen if he lasts past the January transfer window.

The treasured quartet were pivotal figures in a title-winning side, yet football does not linger to embrace nostalgia. How quickly we forget.

Rose is a member of the past two teams to claim the League Two crown and has the medals to prove it. Presently, he is asked to perform against Bristol City’s kids.

Not that there are complaints from an excellent professional and one of football’s good guys.

His display in the 2-0 loss was as committed as ever, demonstrating a willingness to organise his team-mates and audibly motivate a number of academy youngsters by his side.

The absence of Naismith and Evans from that fixture suggests they are viewed a little more advanced in terms of being close to first-team selection.

Although regular compatriots of Rose on the substitutes’ bench during the current campaign, they have been used on more occasions.

Before today’s visit of Bradford, Evans had been handed one appearance in a league starting XI following his sending off against Wigan and subsequent ban.

That arrived at Doncaster, donning the captain’s armband in the process.

However, he was hauled off at half-time having failed to impress in a match which ended in a 2-1 defeat.

The birth of Jamal Lowe’s daughter had opened the door to Evans in his favoured attacking-midfield role down the right. Yet the opportunity slipped through his grasp.

Since that August clash with Wigan, Evans has totalled only 155 first-team minutes in the league, through six appearances.

Naismith was last season’s 15-goal top scorer, netting seven times in his final nine appearances of the title charge.

However, he has not started a league fixture since Walsall on August 19. More telling has been just four subsequent appearances as a substitute.

Despite being a constant presence on the bench, he has amassed 88 minutes from Pompey’s past 12 matches. Naismith is also out of contract in the summer.

Finally, there is Bennett, who is enjoying a new first-team lease in the number 10 role following Brett Pitman’s injury absence.

He had failed to start any of the previous seven games, not even named on the bench in three of them, as Matty Kennedy revelled as his replacement on the left wing.

It cannot be argued that Jackett’s overhaul isn’t without merit. The Blues currently stand 12th, higher than automatic promotion colleagues Doncaster and Plymouth.

It is also worth observing that Naismith and Rose have never previously featured at this level, while Evans had a season’s experience.

There were 17,956 supporters celebrating silverware at Fratton Park during last season’s finale.

But tomorrow is looking increasingly bleak for the heroes of yesterday.

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