Pompey 3 Doncaster Rovers 1

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Pompey's Adam May wins a header. Picture: Mark Robinson

Gaffer brands Pompey opponents ‘absolutely appalling’

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Sean O’Driscoll, Dave Jones, Mark Robins, Aidy Boothroyd, Iain Dowie, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

All conspicuous by their absence from the Pompey directors’ box.

They are the bookies’ favourites – the rumour mill’s chosen ones as the race for the Blues hot seat heads towards it’s conclusion.

Mark McGhee was there. The former Brighton and Reading boss, who is a close friend of another potential suitor Gordon Strachan.

Still, it was the kingmakers and not the pretenders to the throne who were out in force at Fratton Park on Saturday.

David Lampitt, Chris Akers and Roman Dubov were all there to witness the victory over Doncaster.

Even Vladimir Antonov made an appearance.

Nothing out of the ordinary in that, you understand.

Although, according to some reports, he had flown to Norway the previous day to thrash out job terms with Solskjaer.

Regardless, the men who will decide Steve Cotterill’s replacement were all present to observe the excellent job Guy Whittingham and Stuart Gray continue to produce.

The fact the caretaker duo have overseen the collection of six points in a week has bought precious time in the manager hunt.

Nonetheless, a decision must be made this week. And the expectation is it will.

O’Driscoll has already had his interview, meeting Lampitt and Dubov last Wednesday.

Jones has already been ruled out, no matter how much support he has garnered among supporters and bookmakers.

As for the curious emergence of Dowie as a candidate, well there would surely be mutiny if the club went down that route.

Robins only applied on Thursday having missed out on the Bristol City job 24 hours earlier.

While it remains to be seen the reception Boothroyd’s CV has received after being one of the very first to submit his interest on the day Cotterill walked out.

For all the 40-plus names thrown into the ring since the job became available, it is O’Driscoll which remains one of the strongest.

Let’s not forget, this was the man who came within a whisker of getting the Fratton position before Cotterill.

As Doncaster boss at the time, Lampitt and Andrew Andronikou were impressed during that interview process.

Pompey’s chief executive certainly won’t have forgotten such a favourable impression this time around.

Coincidentally, the Blues faced Doncaster on Saturday.

Clearly too close to home for O’Driscoll to make an appearance in the directors’ box.

Perhaps he was present at Fratton, as a paying spectator with hat pulled over his head in an attempt not to be identified.

Only a week before he took such an approach to watch Bristol City play when in the running for their job.

Either way, O’Driscoll remains on gardening leave from Rovers – still being paid by them.

Not that compensation would be a problem as they look to relinquish ties with effectively the most successful boss in their history.

And so the search for the next manager of Portsmouth Football Club continues.

Whittingham and Gray don’t want the job.

Refreshingly, the former has from the start made his feelings perfectly clear on the subject.

No room for misunderstanding. Nothing lost in translation there.

Whittingham doesn’t want it, end of story.

Gray’s preference for his fellow first-team coach to handle the media means he has yet to follow suit.

The understanding is, however, he also prefers to operate only as a coach, a role he has impressed in since arriving in the summer.

Ask any Pompey player and they will speak glowingly about the former Southampton manager, who continues to take centre stage on the training pitch in the absence of a permanent boss.

So the attention on Cotterill’s successor is focused elsewhere.

Shame really, considering the duo’s positive impact.

Saturday marked two wins and a defeat since taking over the helm.

The loss came at Ipswich – an unjust scoreline if ever there was one.

Admittedly, it was Cotterill who set in motion the idea of reverting to 4-4-2 with Luke Varney given a central role.

Some fans may not like to concede that point but players and caretaker management freely credit the departed boss with that Blues switch.

But the Nottingham Forest manager is long gone and the pair in charge have overseen three good performances, six points and five goals.

What’s more, Dave Kitson has begun to impress while Varney has now netted three times in three matches.

Suddenly, with five goals in 11 games, he is looking an inspired purchase from Derby County in the summer.

As for Kitson, he has long pleaded for a partner in crime to assist him in Pompey’s forward line.

That wish has now been answered. And he has looked a different player during the last two-and-a-half matches.

No coincidence surely.

Yet it was the unlikely source of Stephen Henderson who created Pompey’s opener against Doncaster – after just two minutes and 18 seconds.

His booming goal kick was allowed to drop into the path of Varney, who cleverly flicked the ball over the advancing Neil Sullivan to net.

It announced an impressive opening spell from the hosts in front of another low Fratton Park crowd. George Friend cleared Kitson’s header off the line, Herita Ilunga hacked a dangerous Erik Huseklepp cross clear, while David Norris’ deflected shot was taken on the line by Sullivan.

Yet on 27 minutes, Billy Sharp’s corner picked out Simon Gillett who rifled home an equaliser from the edge of the area.

From that point it was all Doncaster, a fact acknowledged by some Pompey fans who booed at the half-time whistle.

After the break the hosts were much improved, yet it wasn’t until the 68th minute before the lead was regained.

Huseklepp’s right-wing cross was headed back across by Liam Lawrence and Norris’ back header was drifting towards the net before Kitson made sure from close range.

Barely five minutes later and Huseklepp burst down the left and unselfishly rolled the ball across the area for Varney to net.

Another win for the temporary answer to Pompey’s management conundrum.

Expect the permanent solution very soon.