Pompey 1 Scunthorpe 2
Tom Craddock’s first Pompey goal was not enough to earn his side any points as managerless Scunthorpe came from behind to secure victory.
The striker lifted a lacklustre first half by heading home Ricky Holmes’ cross, but David Syers almost immediately grabbed an equaliser.
The Blues looked a lot brighter after the break, but it was the Iron celebrating when Syers converted the winner from close range.
Guy Whittingham made three changes from the side that lost at AFC Wimbledon the previous week.
Dan Potts made his debut having arrived on loan from West Ham, while there were also starts for Craddock and Holmes.
Patrick Agyemang missed out with a thigh injury, while David Connolly and Danny East both dropped to the bench. Thery Racon (groin) and Romain Padovani (calf) were also on the sidelines.
Deon Burton – part of the Pompey side that won promotion to the Premier League in 2003 – started for the visitors.
Craddock looked lively up front in the opening stages, although he slipped on the edge of the box after latching onto Jed Wallace’s incisive through ball.
There was not too much to trouble Trevor Carson at the other end of the pitch, although Burton did attempt a couple of long-range efforts that flew wide.
But the Iron came close to breaking the deadlock on 16 minutes, with Sam Winnall dragging a shot wide after the Blues defence had been breached far too easily.
The atmosphere inside Fratton Park was unusually flat, but the decibels did go up when Pompey won a succession of corners midway through the first half.
Wallace then took a great touch to leave Syers swinging at thin air, but Scunthorpe keeper Sam Slocombe came tearing off his line to clear the danger.
It was the visitors who were looking slightly more dangerous going forward, though, and Sonny Bradley made a fine clearance before Terry Hawkridge’s 30-yard strike drew a super stop from Carson.
Winnall also tried his luck from distance on 33 minutes and saw the ball fly inches past the post.
But it was the Blues who broke the deadlock moments later thanks to a fine move.
Simon Ferry picked out Holmes with an intelligent pass and the latter’s first time cross was perfect for an unmarked CRADDOCK to head home from close range.
The lead did not last long, however, as Andy Dawson’s corner was flicked on by Niall Canavan and Syers bundled the ball over the line at the far post.
Half Time: Pompey 1 Scunthorpe 1
Pompey were almost caught napping at the start of the second half, with Carson called into action to deny both Burton and Syers.
Andy Barcham had an opening at the other end, but was denied by a brave Sean McAllister block inside the Iron area.
It was Scunthorpe providing a greater threat, though, and an unmarked Burton would have put them ahead if he had managed to get more than the tip of his boot onto the ball.
But Pompey were looking lively in patches and Potts’ dangerous cross had to be turned behind following good work from Ferry and Barcham.
The Blues almost retook the lead from the resulting corner, but Holmes’ effort clipped the top of the crossbar.
Scunthorpe were suddenly on the back foot and only a superb save from Slocombe stopped them falling behind, the keeper somehow clawing the ball from the line after Johnny Ertl had met Joe Devera’s cross.
Pompey were looking much more vibrant than the first half and Craddock went close on 70 minutes, firing against the post after latching onto Holmes’ pass over the top.
But the Iron went ahead in the very same minute. Winnall beat Bradley inside the box and although his shot was kept out by Carson, the ball fell kindly for Syers to bundle home.
The hosts tried to hit back immediately, but Ferry could not connect with Holmes’ dangerous ball into the box.
Whittingham then made the decision to throw on an extra attacker, with Ertl making way for Connolly.
But it was Scunthorpe who almost netted again soon after, as Carson just about managed to push Winnall’s drive onto the post before keeping out an effort from Hakeeb Adelakun.
The keeper was being kept busy as made another fine stop to prevent Syers from completing his hat-trick on 78 minutes.
Ryan Bird was thrown on for the closing stages, but Pompey were unable to find an equaliser as they slipped to a fourth successive defeat.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Carson; Devera (East 77), N’Gala, Bradley, Potts; Ertl (c) (Connolly 73), Ferry; Wallace, Holmes (Bird 86), Barcham; Craddock
Goals: Craddock 36
Booked: N’Gala, Wallace
Subs not used: Sullivan, Moutaouakil, Painter, Cooper
Scunthorpe (4-4-2): Slocombe; Ribeiro, Mirfin, Canavan, Dawson (c); Hawkridge (Waterfall 90+3), McAllister, Syers, Noble-Lazarus (Adelakun 62); Burton (Nolan 86), Winnall
Goals: Syers 40, 70
Subs not used: Severn, Byrne, Spencer, Iwelumo
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Attendance: 14,550 (174 away fans)