Pompey 1 Southend 2

Youngster Jack Whatmough was handed a starting role in the centre of defence by caretaker boss Andy Awford for the visit of Southend Picture: Joe Pepler
Youngster Jack Whatmough was handed a starting role in the centre of defence by caretaker boss Andy Awford for the visit of Southend Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey conceded late to lose 1-0 at Rotherham. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South

WATCH: Jackett gives thoughts on Pompey defeat

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Guy Whittingham’s notes remained, penned on Sunday night and published in the match-day programme.

It was his only presence at Fratton Park following his surprise sacking 24 hours earlier.

Yet, in his absence, it was the same old, sloppy Pompey as they threw away the chance to end their losing streak with an notable dip in their play in the second half following an encouraging opening 45-minute showing.

A home victory over Southend appeared assured when substitute Cauley Woodrow was shown a straight red card on 65 minutes – just four minutes after coming on to the pitch.

At that stage Andy Barcham’s 90th-second opener had long been the source of a comfortable lead for a Blues side looked after on a caretaker basis for the first time by Andy Awford.

Indeed, Rob Kiernan struck his own bar and David Connolly had nudged the post as the hosts put on an impressive display under their new, albeit temporary, management structure.

Even a clean sheet was in the offing, with Academy youngster Jack Whatmough given a shock outing in the centre of defence as Awford sought to solve that long-standing headache.

The clock indicated 14 minutes remaining against the 10 men.

Surely the Blues could retain their advantage to end a run of four successive defeats which had effectively cost Whittingham his job.

Within five minutes, however, Will Atkinson and Barry Corr had both netted to steer Pompey towards yet another desperately disappointing result.

Harsh, considering their dominance for long spells and the opportunities which fell their way to comfortably extend their lead while on top.

Self-destructing, though, has become an infuriatingly common feature of Pompey’s play this season.

It would seem that is the case, regardless of who is in charge of the team.

Awford made three changes for his first match in charge – the surprise of course being the inclusion of Whatmough as one of his central defenders.

He replaced out-of-sorts Bondz N’Gala, while Shaun Cooper came in for hamstring injury victim Simon Ferry into the heart of the midfield.

The final alteration saw Ricky Holmes dropped to the bench, with David Connolly partnering Tom Craddock in attack in a change of system to the one used by Whittingham in his final match.

Effectively, it was a return to a 4-4-2 system – a switch from the 4-4-1-1 formation employed in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against Scunthorpe.

It would take Pompey just 90 seconds to break the deadlock for a perfect start to life after Whittingham.

Barcham cut in from the left flank, twisting and turning his way across, before unleashing a ferocious right-foot shot high into the net.

It was a stunning strike from the winger, whose delicious early-season impetus has strangely eluded him of late.

In the fifth minute, Johnny Ertl saw a flying header cleared off the line at the far post by Anthony Straker as the host’s impressive beginning to the match continued.

At the other end, Ben Coker took a free-kick following a disputed foul by Connolly, yet fired it harmlessly straight into the arms of the comfortable Trevor Carson.

Largely, however, Awford’s side were dominating, and on 14 minutes Luke Prosser was booked following an ugly lunge on Connolly down the left flank.

More pressing from the hosts on 21 minutes saw Jed Wallace slide in a shot from the angle down the right, but Shrimpers keeper Daniel Bentley gathered easily.

Southend should have levelled in the 27th minute.

When a corner-kick was delivered from the left, Corr rose above Whatmough to head it back – and White somehow scooped over from close range.

Pompey themselves missed a golden opportunity in the 36th minute when Connolly prodded the ball through to Craddock.

The ball took a kindly ricochet off Prosser’s attempted tackle to bounce into the striker’s path, but the former Oxford front man then lashed it over the bar from the angle with just the keeper to beat.

Southend remained dangerous, however, and Michael Timlin blazed over when Pompey couldn’t deal with a bouncing delivery from the right flank.

On the stroke of half-time, a magnificently-measured ball down the line from Connolly freed Wallace and his cross was diverted against his own crossbar by Kiernan.

The home side started the second-half just as brightly, with a flowing move instigated by Barcham, who then fed Wallace.

And when his shot was blocked, the visitors had trouble scrambling it clear.

Connolly was the latest to waste a chance to score when Craddock cleverly dummied Barcham’s through ball to release the veteran down the left-hand side of the penalty area.

Yet, when Pompey’s top-scorer pulled the trigger, he could only send a right-footed shot skimming across the far post and out for a goal-kick.

The hosts’ hopes of victory did receive a boost in the 65th minute when Woodrow picked up a straight red card.

The substitute had only been the pitch for four minutes, having replaced Adam Thompson, yet was given his marching orders after catching Wallace with an elbow.

Regardless, Southend equalised in the 76th minute when Corr pushed a reverse pass through and Atkinson slid in a shot from the left-hand side under the body of Carson and into the net.

And in the 81st minute the visitors had their winner.

John White crossed from the right and Corr nipped in to steer a header home from close range.

There were five minutes of time added on, but the Blues could not break down the high-flying Shrimpers and it was yet another defeat – this time without Whittingham being in the building.