Pompey 2 Peterborough 0 '“ Neil Allen's match report
A scowling Brett Pitman stomped down the players' tunnel, thunderous thoughts plastered across his face as he tore off the captain's armband.
The pleasant stroll in the glorious May sunshine had yielded Fratton Park smiles and an eighth-placed finish.
Victory in the campaign finale over Peterborough ushered in optimism, an uplifting occasion when even the gloomiest of naysayers could begrudgingly disperse their black moods.
Granted, the game was meaningless, an end-of-season dead match devoid of relevance amid a final-day fixture list allocated a 5.30pm start.
Yet Pompey finished on a high, Football League debutant Alex Bass registering a clean sheet and the term finishing as it began – with a 2-0 success.
For the seething Pitman and his relentless pursuit of goal-scoring perfection, however, there were inquests and finger pointing.
The outstanding striker netted twice to take his campaign tally to 25, yet mourned the spurning of a hat-trick and fumed over an absence of recognition for his second.
Testimony to the drive of a remarkable professional possessing an insatiable desire to perform at the highest of standards, even with relatively little riding on a match.
At times during second-half lulls in atmosphere, the chatter among the 18,118 crowd could be heard, reflecting a pre-season setting.
Yet Pitman’s intensity refused to diminish, as he attempted to chase down golden boot rival Jack Marriott, who incidentally had been benched for Saturday’s game.
Ultimately, Pitman fell three league goals short, while overall one adrift of Svetoslav Todorov’s 2002-03 Pompey return of 26.
Considering that disappointment, the Blues’ skipper was absolutely in no mood to accept a mistake from the Fratton Park PA system announcer, who clumsily awarded his second goal to Jamal Lowe.
On 25 minutes, Lowe collected the ball on the right and drove in a right-footed shot-cum-cross which was gleefully turned home at the far post by Pitman.
Offside suspicions were unfounded, yet the scorer was subsequently incensed when the goal was instead wrongly credited to Lowe over the Tannoy.
Immediately he screamed at random figures in the South stand, demonstrating fruity language while roaring ‘It’s my goal’ as he furiously gesticulated towards himself.
Certainly his mood wasn’t lightened when later in the half he improbably blazed an opportunity high over the bar from three yards following Matt Clarke’s backheel.
Posh keeper Jonathan Bond also produced several saves to deny Pitman during a rampant opening 45 minutes in which the leading scorer played like a man possessed.
No winding down ahead of summer season for the 30-year-old, who continued to bristle long after the final whistle, particularly when one member of the press pack daringly described the moment as a ‘Harry Kane’.
In dogged pursuit of justice, expect the former Bournemouth man to now enlist Pompey office staff to take up his argument to ensure rightful ownership.
Regardless, the two-goal Pitman was once again the man of the moment in a season during which only Matt Clarke has managed to continually upstage him.
The central defender collected The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season before kick-off, among five trophies, with Pitman suitably laden with the same number of accolades.
And Clarke’s display against the Posh oozed quality to once again deliver the reminder he is destined for the Championship. The key question is whether that will be with Pompey.
Still, the 21-year-old’s composure on the ball is remarkable and on occasions he breezed through proceedings against a Peterborough side going through the motions.
Steve Evans’ side stood no chance with Pitman and Clarke demonstrating such focus at both ends of the pitch. The 2-0 scoreline, if anything, flattered the visitors.
They were up against Football League debutant Alex Bass in the Blues’ goal, the keeper who had turned 20 earlier in the week.
The Academy product has been associated with the first-team since aged 16 although, in league terms, solely as a substitute keeper, numbering 76 times.
Yet Kenny Jackett chose the occasion to hand him his league bow – and a third Pompey appearance overall.
Bass revealed an ankle injury sustained in training had deprived him of a potential start at Bury the previous week, but was finally handed his long-awaited outing on Saturday.
Not that he was particularly tested, although was called upon to deal with a Marcus Maddison free-kick on 10 minutes which took an awkward bounce and was claimed at the second attempt.
Then there was the moment he rushed off his line to smartly block the ball at the feet of Idris Kanu as the striker raced through.
Otherwise, it was a comfortable afternoon for Bass, who looked calm and assured and will now surely remain at Fratton Park with the club possessing a 12-month option.
Also among the Pompey XI was Kal Naismith, dropped from the squad at Bury last weekend having started the previous nine matches.
His future remains in doubt as a three-year deal approaches its finale, with fresh offers since November turned down by the talented Scot whose performances have been a disappointment of late.
When he made way for Matty Kennedy in the 76th minute, the manner of his applause to all ends of his ground suggested this was a farewell. Time will tell.
Likewise, it may have been Clarke’s final outing as Pompey brace themselves for the inevitable summer interest from admirers.
Meanwhile, loanee Stuart O’Keefe must await news of whether he is wanted permanently by Jackett, along with the injured Anton Walkes.
As for the goals, the opener arrived on 13 minutes when Gareth Evans’ corner from the left was powered home by the head of Pitman.
The striker then took his tally for the season to 25, converting Lowe’s delivery from the right, for an unassailable lead against the Posh.
Back in League One, it has been an encouraging – if erratic – campaign for the Blues.
And in Pitman they possess a deadly striker craving goal fulfilment.