BURY’S Wembley dreams were dashed at the last hurdle as Portsmouth humbled the Shakers 3-0 in an entertaining Checkatrade Trophy semi-final clash at Gigg Lane.

Kenny Jackett’s side – on target for promotion to the Championship – cut loose during what was a clinical second-half display, with Gareth Evans, Oliver Hawkins and Ronan Curtis all scoring.

It will be the south coast outfit who now go on to meet either Bristol Rovers or Sunderland in the final at Wembley Stadium on March 31.

Meanwhile, the wounded Shakers will return to their League Two promotion tilt on Saturday when they host Macclesfield Town.

As the game kicked off, there was a carnival atmosphere inside the stadium, helped along by a very healthy Pompey contingent numbering almost 500.

It was the League One high-flyers who created the first opportunity, which culminated with Hawkins heading harmlessly wide.

The Shakers responded by going much closer to an opener, as the weekend’s two-goal hero against Oldham, Nicky Maynard, fired in a curling shot that keeper Craig MacGillivray palmed away superbly.

There was an enterprising high tempo both on and off the pitch in the early stages, a point which must have been encouraging for all those watching live on television.

In the 15th minute, Bury had the home fans on their feet. Nicky Adams’ corner was only cleared as far as Jay O’Shea, with the midfielder steadying sharply before hitting a half-volley inches over the top.

The recalled Caolan Lavery was next to curl a left-footed strike wide as the hosts continued to press for an opener.

As the quarter-point of the game passed, it was the Shakers who were in the ascendancy, though Pompey’s threat – despite them not having won a league match since New Year’s Day – was always evident when they were in possession.

That was perfectly illustrated in the 31st minute when Hawkins nodded narrowly over as he rose cleanly to meet former Bolton Wanderers loanee Viv Solomon-Otabor’s whipped cross.

There was a scrappier start to the second period, with both sets of players presumably beginning to feel the heat with such a massive prize at stake.

Pompey threatened first when Hawkins nodded into the path of skipper Evans, whose pile-driver was superbly blocked by Will Aimson.

The visitors looked to have the bit between their teeth, and half-time substitute Jamal Lowe forced Shakers keeper Joe Murphy into a competent stop down low.

Bury’s first chance of the second period saw Lavery head Adams’ outswinging corner harmlessly wide.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 61st minute.

Pompey made their early second-half domination pay off when Evans curled home a free kick from 25 yards –Murphy never moved and the home faithful were silenced.

The Wembley dream seemed even further away three minutes later when Pompey struck again.

This time, Nathan Thompson headed into the path of Hawkins, who volleyed home from four yards.

Credit to the Shakers, they did not let their heads drop as Maynard cracked a shot just past the far post, while O’Shea drove in a half-volley which MacGillivray had to be supremely alert to keep out.

However, it was game over in the 77th minute when wide man Ronan Curtis drilled unerringly into the far corner to make it 3-0 to a hugely impressive Pompey outfit.


Bury (3-5-2): Murphy 7, Aimson 6, Thompson 7, McFadzean 6 (Omotayo, 77 5), Adams 6 (Cooney 69, 7), O’Shea 7, Rossiter 7, Mayor 7, Moore 5; Lavery 8, Maynard 7 (Telford 69 6).

Subs not used: Moloney, Stokes, O’Connell, Danns.

Portsmouth (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray 7, Thompson 8, Burgess 7 (Walkes 88 5), Clarke 8, Brown 7, Close 6, Naylor 7, Curtis 8, Evans 7, Solomon-Otabor 5 (Lowe 46 8), Hawkins 7.

Subs not used: Bass, Pitman, Donohue, Vaughan, Haunstrup.

Referee: Ross Joyce.

Attendance: 3,900.