Alex Bass – Pompey Number 1?

Published: 13/07/2022

By Sidney Wise

With rumours that Josh Griffiths is due to arrive on loan from West Brom, Danny Cowley faces a tough decision in the goalkeeping department this summer. Does he follow a similar path to last season and use the impressive young goalkeeper on loan or, does he look toward Alex Bass as the man to take the no.1 jersey? The academy graduate will likely feel that he has waited long enough and at 24 will be itching to be the main goalkeeper at Pompey, or perhaps elsewhere. This may have to be the case as, unfortunately, there have been question marks over Bass in the past. There has been criticism over decision making and command of his box but mostly, and crucially for the way Cowley wants to play, his distribution. When you look back at Bazunu last season, painful as it may be now, distribution was arguably his main strength. Playing out from the back with the Irishman’s qualities was massively important to how we played. If Bass has not improved his distribution enough, then Cowley may feel he has to hunt for a new goalkeeper to fill the no.1 spot. 


Previous Stint as Number 1 

Bass did have a short stint as Pompey’s first choice goalkeeper under Kenny Jackett in the 2019/20 season. In what was a surprising move due to the quality of Craig MacGillivray, Bass was given the no.1 jersey at the turn of the year that season against Gillingham with MacGillivray dropped after a 3-1 defeat away at MK Dons. He went on to claim a solid record of 15 appearences with 7 clean sheets 

However, criticism of his goalkeeping performances mostly stems from that year’s playoff campaign against Oxford United. Namely the second leg at the Kassam Stadium. Marcus Harness had put the blues a goal to the good on both the night and on aggregate but a horrendous mix up between Bass and former striker Ellis Harrison at a corner just before halftime gifted Oxford an equaliser and they went on to win the tie on penalties. It was a particularly poor error with a complete breakdown in communication and, although Bass was deemed to not have been at fault by goalkeeping coach John Keeley, many feel that the incident highlighted the key weaknesses in his game. In 2020/21 season, MacGillivray regained the no.1 spot. 


Loan at Bradford City 

Clearly, as a young keeper learning his trade there were improvements Bass could make to his game and with him not being the first choice keeper last season due to the form of Gavin Bazunu, the signing of Ollie Webber from Crystal Palace allowed him the opportunity to gain valuable playing time and experience at League Two Bradford. This was under the tutelage of former Manchester City and Stoke City manager Mark Hughes. 

To his credit, Bass has earned plaudits for how he has played at Bradford. Simon Parker, Chief Sports Writer at the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, was complimentary about the young keeper’s exploits. On his time with the Bantams he claimed that ‘Alex Bass has been spectacular and then had a couple of rickets, but overall very good’. He described how the goalkeeping position had been difficult for Bradford to adequately fill but Bass had done so and how Bass had been making saves that were ‘above League Two level’. Overall, Bass kept six clean sheets in 21 games. 

More importantly from a Pompey perspective, Parker discussed Bass’s distribution and command of his area. ‘His distribution has been very good, Bass is extremely comfortable on the ball and commanding of his box’. These are some of the key attributes that many feel Bass needed to improve on and to have strong praise in these areas is an extremely promising sign and could bode well for him in this forthcoming season. 

There was one major mishap, which luckily was not costly. In a win over Scunthorpe Bass went to collect a back pass but, was let down by his first touch which allowed the Scunthorpe striker to close him down and the attempted clearance from Bass rebounded off Rekeil Pyke and into the empty net. Despite this only happening once, it is mistakes like this that may worry Danny Cowley and make him think that a keeper who is more comfortable with the ball at his feet would be a better fit for the blues. 


What Next for Bass? 

Alex Bass certainly believes that he has what it takes to be the blues first choice goalkeeper for the 2022/23 season. At Valley Parade he was encouraged by Mark Hughes to play out from the back. ‘Even when I was at Bradford, Mark Hughes was big on trying to keep the ball and building possession’.  As a result of this Bass feels that he now possesses the necessary qualities to claim the no.1 jersey at Portsmouth. In addition, the 24-year-old feels that he has proven the doubters wrong by playing regularly for the Bantams as their first choice. ‘To go to Bradford and play 20 games has given myself and everyone around Pompey (the confidence) in the fact I can play because I’ve shown I can do it’.  

The question is does Danny Cowley share these beliefs? Recent reports linking Pompey with loan moves for Brighton keeper Carl Rushworth, who has since joined Lincoln, and West Brom shot stopper Josh Griffiths would suggest not. However, Bass will have a fair number of pre-season games to convince Cowley he is the solution to Pompey’s goalkeeping headaches, but can he persuade the club they need not look elsewhere for a first choice keeper? 

If not, he may look for first team football elsewhere with Crawley Town recently expressing their interest. Bass only has a year left on his deal and therefore if he is not assured of first team football next season, he may feel that it is time to move on. It would also ensure that Pompey gain a fee for his services rather than letting the keeper walk away for free. New Crawley manager Kevin Betsy has been given money to spend this summer and it is understood that they have made an offer, with negotiations continuing.