Bournemouth 0 - Pompey 1

Will these clashes return next season? Pompey v Saints in 2012.

RICK JACKSON: My £100 bet that Pompey/Saints derbies will return next season

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The Bournemouth PA system summed it up perfectly.

As Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ reverberated around the ground seconds after the final whistle, the irony wasn’t lost on those present.

A disappointing Pompey display once again highlighted the alarming state of the former Premier League side’s threadbare squad.

To say the most impressive side on the night didn’t win would be an understatement.

League One newcomers Bournemouth threatened more, played the more impressive football and were simply a level above Steve Cotterill’s men.

Yes, Pompey really were that bad.

Not that Cotterill was concerned after witnessing his side squeak past their neighbours with a 1-0 victory.

Neither should the crowd and those Blues fans following their team’s progress at home be particularly anxious.

On the grand scale of things, the result was nothing more than a trifling irrelevance.

As is the norm in pre-season, the occasion simply served as a disposable warm-up act for the main event.

Win, lose or draw – no harm done.

Except the true reason to be cheerful occurred on the Dean Court pitch before kick-off.

In all fairness, the sight of Ibrahima Sonko knocking a ball around would have set few pulses racing in the build-up.

But his mere presence represented rare optimism in a summer of troubles.

The on-loan man was unable to participate against Bournemouth, red tape ensuring he had to be pulled out of the line-up upon reaching the ground.

Ultimately, the failure to be registered in time saw Hayden Mullins drop back into defence, a role he ended up serving with excellence.

But Sonko signifies the start of Cotterill being allowed to strengthen his worryingly-weak side.

The first of many? How we hope, otherwise the bookies just might be right in naming Pompey as their third favourites to go down.

And at least it proved not everything that unfolded last night was bad.

Nobody needs reminding that a minimum of five players are required for Pompey to be competitive in the Championship this season.

It’s a simple fact which cannot be sugar-coated or spun in dizzying fashion in a calculated attempt to cheer everyone up.

However, if Sonko’s arrival can manage to eke open the floodgates, there is every reason to remain upbeat down Fratton way.

With Stephen Jordan’s presence set to become permanent in the next few days and Jamie Ashdown also in the frame, suddenly matters are looking up.

Having fought off late interest from Bristol City and Sonko’s former boss Steve Coppell, it could well be the precious turning point.

We shall see.

The Stoke man’s presence should not distract from the subsequent performance, of course.

Make no bones about it, the display was a desperately poor one from a club which has regularly enjoyed convincing results in Dean Court pre-season friendlies.

Then again, you can hardly compare the qualities of Pompey past to Pompey present.

The Blues’ last visit two years ago would mark the final appearance of Sulley Muntari before setting off for Inter Milan.

The season before that, Lomana Lualua bagged a hat-trick before fleeing to Olympiacos.

How Cotterill would love to possess such talents at his disposal this time around as he looks to rally his devastated squad.

Even Bournemouth boasted more substitutes than their more illustrious opposition, a startling contrast considering the Cherries usually failed to field their bench during last season’s successful promotion.

Pompey’s squad, though, had that familiar American and Canadian ring to it as he shuffled the pack which recently spent two eventful weeks across the Atlantic.

Jordan had failed to recover from a calf problem, while Billy Goddard, Tom Wilson and trialist Jon Stewart are longer-term absentees.

Coupled with Sonko’s unavailability, once against Cotterill had to hammer in square pegs in round holes.

This time Mullins and Marc Wilson dropped into the centre of defence and Matt Ritchie filled in at left-back.

Hardly ideal circumstances – and the match which unfolded was largely bossed by Bournemouth.

Admittedly, in the first half, David Nugent did strike a wickedly-swerving cross narrowly over, while Marlon Pack and Tommy Smith had efforts well saved.

But it was the hosts’ Marc Pugh who struck the inside of the far post after cutting in from the left on 35 minutes.

Howe’s men continued to wreak problems after the break, the impressive Liam Feeney, Brett Pitman and substitute Josh McQuoid all going close.

The game’s decisive moment, however, occurred on 67 minutes.

As Pack attempted to meet Ritchie’s left-wing corner, referee James Linnington adjudged he had been pulled back by Marvin Bartley.

The cool head of Wilson did the rest – sealing a result Pompey didn’t deserve.

Not that it mattered, of course.

By rights, the biggest cheer of the day should have been reserved for Sonko.

Let’s just hope many other players follow his lead by venturing down to Pompey.