Bury 0-3 Portsmouth
Portsmouth gave the Pompey faithful plenty to cheer about by booking a trip to Wembley with a super second half show at Bury in the Checkatrade Trophy semi-final.
An excellent free-kick from skipper Gareth Evans, a smart Oli Hawkins finish and a great individual effort from Ronan Curtis ensured it's a first trip to the home of football for nine years.
The only negative from a great night for the players and Kenny Jackett was an injury picked up by Christian Burgess.
The final is on March 31 against either Sunderland or Bristol Rovers.
The manager will hope this proves a springboard to reignite a push for automatic promotion, and there will be plenty of positives to take from a first win for nine games.
The lure of first trip to Wembley since the Cup Final defeat to Chelsea in 2010 was clearly on Jackett’s mind as he picked a strong side to face the League Two outfit.
Saturday’s penalty villain Omar Bogle was nursing a hamstring injury so made way for Hawkins. Nathan Thompson was back in defence and Evans returned to midfield with Brett Pitman handed a place on the bench.
The home side were clearly in attack mode with Nicky Maynard forcing Craig MacGillivray into early action, pushing away an effort from the Bury striker before Lee Brown cleared the danger.
Not to be outdone Pompey showed their early intent with Curtis forcing the home keeper into action, Joe Murphy comfortably keeping his effort out.
There was very much an open feel about the game with both sides seemingly pleased to have a break from their respective promotion pushes.
Pompey looked dangerous when their two wide men, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Curtis, got on the ball but Bury weren’t allowing their visitors any time to settle.
The worry for Jackett was that the Shakers didn’t look like a side from the league below Pompey, enjoying the lion’s share of possession and creating more chances.
Sky Sports must have hoped to see a hatful of goals after Pompey’s 3-3 draw at Southend in front of the TV cameras – so you could have put your house on a goal-less first half.
Jackett sent Jamal Lowe on at the start of the second half but it was a surprise to see Solomon-Otabor making way.
The Portsmouth players must have been reminded at the interval they were the team in the higher division and a Wembley place was up for grabs, as they started the half with much more purpose.
The near-500 away following who’d made the long trip to the north west had a little more to cheer as Pompey started to dominate possession.
It seemed a set-piece was a good bet to break the deadlock and Evans duly obliged on the hour mark. Ben Close was fouled just outside the box and Evans’ excellent curled effort was too good for Murphy.
Three minutes later and the away fans were sure they had made the right decision to make the long midweek trip as Hawkins finished a great move – Lee Brown with the cross-field ball to Thompson who broke into the box and headed across goal for Hawkins to volley home.
Bury were boasting an impressive home record but they couldn’t handle Pompey after the break and the icing on the cake was applied by Curtis, breaking into the box and firing home in the 77th minute.
There was a great save from MacGillivray, turning away Caolan Lavery’s free-kick, and several renditions of ‘Wem-ber-lee’ as the away fans enjoyed a night to remember.
Bury (3-5-2): Murphy; Aimson, Thompson, McFadzean (Omotayo 77mins); O’Shea, Rossiter, Adams (Cooney 70), Mayor, Moore; Lavery, Maynard (Telford 69). Subs (not used): Moloney (gk), Stokes, O’Connell, Danns.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Thompson, Burgess (Walkes 88mins), Clark, Brown; Naylor, Close; Curtis, Evans, Solomon-Otabor (Lowe 46); Hawkins. Subs (not used): Bass (gk), Haunstrup, Donohoe, Pitman, Vaughan.
Referee: Ross Joyce