Jordan Cross looks back on Pompey’s win over the Shakers and assesses the talking points
It’s not always pretty – but it’s pretty effective.
Pompey are finding a way to pick up the wins to force themselves into play-off contention.
Kenny Jackett’s side’s seven successes out of eight games, with six coming in the league, is seeing them punch above their weight in League One.
Goals scored now sees them separated from the play-offs, as they drew level with Charlton on points and goal difference.
The win over Bury was hard-working and diligent rather than sparkling.
Brett Pitman quite rightly bristled when the previous success at Charlton was described as battling, with Pompey producing decent football – particularly through the game’s middle third.
This time around, though, it was an apt way to reflect what unfolded against a bottom-of-the-table Bury side who went close to frustrating Jackett’s men.
Pompey were thankful for the Shakers affording Matt Clarke the freedom of their penalty area to head in the decisive goal.
The visitors offered little threat themselves and once the breakthrough was made there wasn’t any doubt over the game’s outcome.
It’s an approach which is seeing the Blues challenge last season’s 10 wins from 12 across that never-to-be-forgotten finale.
RESOLUTE AND MISERLY
Luke McGee had a comfortable afternoon against Bury.
The Pompey keeper was worked on just the single occasion, as he made a routine stop from Nicky Ajose’s early effort.
That ensured the Blues picked up their fourth clean sheet on the bounce, the fifth in their past six outings and seven in the past eight.
The steeliness of Jackett’s men is playing a fundamental role in their upturn in fortunes.
Pompey aren’t blowing teams away with irresistible football, but look resolute and miserly in their play.
Matt Clarke and Christian Burgess were once again dominant against Bury, with Nathan Thompson producing more of the dependable play his Pompey career has become associated with.
On the other side, Brandon Haunstrup is, quite rightly, delighted with his recent form.
His run of four starts has coincided with the unbroken clean-sheet span Pompey are currently on.
In front of them, Ben Close made an efficient return after Stuart O’Keefe was replaced after taking a first-half hit.
The most revealing stat over defensive form, of course, is five of the recent wins coming by a 1-0 scoreline.
And only Wigan and Shrewsbury have conceded fewer goals on their own patch than the four the Blues have shipped in 11 league fixtures at Fratton Park this term.
WE’VE SEEN YOU BEFORE
It was friends reunited at Fratton Park at the weekend.
And a couple of those figures would love to play a role in Pompey’s future.
Sol Campbell’s presence would’ve been a surprise to most Blues fan, as he made his first return to the club since leaving in 2009.
The former England international is now looking for a coaching role and stated he would be keen to a return to PO4 at any level.
However, the reception Campbell was afforded couldn’t match that given to Svetoslav Todorov at the weekend.
His 26 goals in the 2002-03 Division One title-winning season ensured the 39-year-old’s elevation to the Pompey Hall of Fame – and a special place in fans’ hearts.
Campbell touting himself for a role meant the fact Todorov is looking for a return to English football has been slightly overshadowed.
After stints cutting his coaching teeth in the Bulgarian second division and with CSKA Sofia, he is keen on moving back to the country, with Pompey his preference.
He’s been doing his homework on the club from afar, too, watching their recent games from abroad, showing he’s serious about any opportunity.
Another returning player at the weekend didn’t make such an impact as Todorov, though.
Michael Smith had a hard time at Pompey, but his goals contributed to winning the title – a fact recognised in a class ovation following his second-half withdrawal.