A quickfire Portsmouth double just after the hour mark saw the visitors over the line, crushing Bury’s Wembley dream. Evans opened the scoring after sixty-one minutes, then three minutes later Hawkins gave Pompey their second. Fourteen minutes from time Ronan Curtis finished the game off as the final scoreline was a harsh 3-0.
Ryan Lowe named one change to his side that were victorious on Derby Day, as Caolan Lavery came into the starting eleven, with Chris Stokes making way and taking up a position on the bench.
The Shakers almost got off to a flyer. First Byron Moore’s cross looked destined to give Lavery a free header from six yards out but Clarke intervened just in time. Then Nicky Maynard turned and struck a venomous low strike on goal, but MacGillivray was just able to get the ball under control low to his left.
Bury were creating the better chances. Danny Mayor won the ball high up the field, carrying it forward before squaring it to Lavery, who curled an effort just wide of the post from the edge of the area.
The opening exchanges didn’t see Pompey enter Bury’s final third too often, not giving Murphy anything major to do between the sticks.
Ryan Lowe’s side continued to see the better of the ball in the opening half hour, but the final ball was lacking at times as Portsmouth were able to thwart everything the Shakers were throwing at them in this Checkatrade Trophy Semi-Final.
Portsmouth still looked dangerous on the break. Solomon-Otabor was slipped the ball by Brown before a brilliant challenge from Will Aimson kept the visitors out. The ball wasn’t fully cleared following Aimson’s tackle, allowing Brown to whip a ball into Hawkins who saw his looping header over the bar.
Another Portsmouth chance was cut out by Will Aimson. A free-kick from the right-hand-side was almost beyond all the Shakers with Burgess and Hawkins lurking at the back post, it took a brilliant interception from the centre-half to prevent a great opportunity for Kenny Jackett’s side.
Visiting defender Matt Clarke almost handed Bury Skipper Nicky Adams a glorious opportunity to get the first goal of the Semi-Final. Adams was able to intercept the ball just outside the Pompey area, but unfortunately couldn’t bring the ball under control as it bounced back to the defence.
A very good half of football drew to a close with Maynard and Lavery terrorising the Portsmouth defence, not giving them any breathing space on the ball. You couldn’t tell that the teams were in different leagues.
HALF-TIME: Bury 0-0 Portsmouth
The visitors continued to pose a threat in the air after the break, but not enough to challenge the Bury backline, as they quashed Pompey’s quest for an opener following another set-piece.
Bury’s number four Will Aimson was proving to be vital to the hunt for a clean sheet. He threw himself in front of a fierce strike to make a heroic block just eight minutes into the second period.
On the hour mark, Caolan Lavery almost profited from a slack, square back pass from Burgess, fortunately for Pompey, MacGillivray was able to clear the ball.
The sixty-first minute saw the deadlock broken. The visitors took the lead through their Skipper for the evening, Gareth Evans. He curled a free-kick from just outside the area beyond Murphy, after managing to get the ball over the wall.
Three minutes later it was two for Pompey. Oliver Hawkins doubled the lead for his side following a slick move. A deep cross from Brown was nodded back across by Nathan Thompson, allowing Hawkins to finish emphatically into the top corner.
In his last action before being substituted, Nicky Maynard was inches away from halving the deficit. A quick one-two with Adams on the far side saw the striker get a shot on goal on the turn, the ‘keeper was beaten, but so was the post as Pompey remained still two goals to the good.
A brilliant response from Ryan Lowe’s side continued. A menacing run from Mayor saw him play the ball into O’Shea who turned and got a shot away. Despite plenty of power on the strike, MacGillivray was able to catch the ball.
Murphy saved an initial shot from Evans, parrying the ball away. Ronan Curtis looked destined to bag Pompey’s third after reacting first to the loose ball, but a brilliant last-ditch challenge from Will Aimson yet again averted the danger away from the Bury goal.
As the clock signalled fourteen minutes remaining, Kenny Jackett’s team had their third of the evening. Ronan Curtis spun with the ball in the box, before lashing a low effort across Murphy and into the back of the net.
MacGillivray looked determined to keep his clean sheet intact. A fierce free-kick from O’Shea almost found the top corner, but the ‘keeper managed to get two firm hands to the ball to turn it away.
The Shakers weren’t giving up, conveying their brilliant never-say-die attitude. A quick ball into Lavery saw the Sheffield United loanee open up his body, and almost curl an effort across MacGillivray into the bottom corner, but it was just wide in what was the final chance of the Checkatrade Trophy Semi-Final.
FULL-TIME: Bury 0-3 Portsmouth
Bury: Murphy (GK), Aimson, Adam Thompson, Adams (C) (69’ Cooney), Mayor, Rossiter, Moore, McFadzean (77’ Omotayo), O’Shea, Lavery, Maynard (69’ Telford)
Unused Subs: Moloney (GK), Stokes, O’Connell, Danns
Portsmouth: MacGillivray, Brown, Clarke, Burgess (88’ Walkes), Naylor, Hawkins, Curtis, Solomon-Otabor (46’ Lowe), Nathan Thompson, Evans (C), Close
Unused Subs: Bass (GK), Pitman, Donohue, Vaughan, Haunstrup
Attendance: 3,900 with 452 travelling to support Portsmouth. Thanks for your terrific support this evening!!