Ipswich 1 Pompey 0

The impressive Jimmy Bullard is kept out by Joel Ward, left, and David Norris
The impressive Jimmy Bullard is kept out by Joel Ward, left, and David Norris
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Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Guy Whittingham and Stuart Gray don’t want the Pompey manager’s job.

But their audition pieces continue to impress.

Granted, the stand-in double act suffered defeat at Ipswich last night.

Keith Andrews grabbed the only goal of the game in the 69th minute to settle matters at a cold Portman Road.

Nonetheless, it was still an eye-catching turn from the Blues.

Referee Gavin Ward may have attracted the wrath of the home faithful with some unpopular decisions.

Yet the air of frustration was created by the visitors, whose gutsy display warranted the victory.

Even Ipswich boss Paul Jewell admitted the visitors had been the better side and his team would have been fortunate to escape with a draw.

Despite the Tractor Boys’ five-match unbeaten run going into this clash, managerless Pompey had not been intent on coming away with only a draw.

Far from it. Pompey played some good football at times, especially in the first half when they had several opportunities to break the deadlock.

They were just as adventurous after the break to perhaps banish all thoughts of being a 45-minute side.

Fans have long cried out for a performance over the 90 minutes – last night they certainly got one.

It was just a shame the only thing missing was a goal as they went down 1-0.

Had Jason Pearce’s last-gasp header from substitute Erik Huseklepp’s cross gone an inch either side of David Stockdale, they would have got it.

As it was, it was straight down the keeper’s throat and moments later, Ipswich had their victory.

Quite who will be Steve Cotterill’s replacement is anyone’s guess. There are enough names being bandied around. With Dave Jones out of the running, that race is wide open, with Ian Dowie the latest to be linked. Albeit by the bookies alone.

In the meantime, the two first-team coaches at the helm continue to steer the side well.

On Saturday, it was a 2-0 victory over Barnsley, a crucial morale-booster in light of last week’s managerial antics.

Then it was on to Ipswich, a fixture which ended in defeat but, nonetheless, provided plenty of optimism.

Not that the fans and the watching Roman Dubov and David Lampitt needed reminding of the talent in the Blues squad.

They just require someone to take over the reins and build on the work already put in.

Pompey made two changes to the side which recorded an uplifting win over Barnsley at the weekend.

Dave Kitson made his first start since August 27, coming in for the injured Benjani.

The former Stoke man had made a good impression as substitute against the Tykes and was named alongside Luke Varney in a two-man strike force.

The other change was Joel Ward, who was restored to midfield in place of Erik Huseklepp, who dropped to the bench.

It was a move designed to give more defensive grit down the left-hand side and help combat the overlapping runs of Carlos Edwards.

There was also a recall to the squad for the on-loan Bjorn Helge Riise. The Fulham man was named on the bench, having failed to make the final 16 for the Barnsley fixture.

It was a tight opening half hour, full of invention from both sides without troubling either keeper.

Varney had a great chance but failed to make the most of David Norris’ perfect through ball as he shot straight at Town keeper Stockdale.

The visitors should then have broken the deadlock on 29 minutes.

Liam Lawrence’s low corner from the left was missed by the flying head of Ricardo Rocha and instead fell to Kitson at the near post. Just five yards out, however, the striker side-footed past the post.

That seemed to galvanize the Blues as they started to pile on the pressure and both Rocha and Ward had excellent opportunities to net with headers, the latter forcing Stockdale into a save.

At the other end, a clever move down the right saw Jason Scotland slide in Andrews whose first-time shot was comfortably gathered by Stephen Henderson.

After the break, the match continued to remain deadlocked, much to the growing frustration of the home fans.

On 64 minutes, however, Edwards’ fierce cross-cum-shot from the right flashed across goal with Henderson struggling.

And just five minutes later, Ipswich had taken the lead.

Hayden Mullins gave away possession as he attempted to play his way clear of the box.

The ball came to Edwards whose cross bounced off substitute Nathan Ellington into the path of Andrews who made no mistake from close range.

Pompey pushed for the equaliser and, through Varney, they remained dangerous on the break.

With the game into stoppage-time, Varney sent a header from Ward’s left-wing centre wide.

Then, Huseklepp swung in his cross, which was met by Pearce only to fly straight into the arms of Stockdale.

Moments later, the referee’s whistle sounded, much to the relief of Ipswich.

Next for Pompey is Doncaster, while their manager hunt continues. In the meantime, Whittingham and Gray are doing themselves proud in such a strictly temporary position.