Webster on target as Blues win again
Adam Webster’s early goal ensured that Pompey won successive league matches for the first time this season.
The defender struck from just a couple of yards out to see off Hartlepool and provide a timely boost in the battle to beat the drop.
The victory would have been more comfortable if Ryan Taylor had not seen his spot-kick saved a few minutes later.
But there was still plenty of joy at the final whistle – contrasting with the poignant atmosphere at the start as Fratton Park paid tribute to four-year-old Jack Robinson, who tragically lost his brave battle with a brain tumour earlier in the week.
Andy Awford sprung a couple of surprises with his line-up, making two changes from the side that won at Newport the previous week.
Simon Ferry was handed a first start since mid-January after recovering from a back injury, with Johnny Ertl dropping to the bench.
Meanwhile, Webster – fresh from being recalled from his Aldershot loan – replaced the injured Daniel Alfei at right-back.
And the teenager made a dream start to his first Pompey appearance of the season.
There were only 82 seconds on the clock when he bundled the ball over the line from close range after Ricky Holmes’ free-kick had been headed back across goal by Taylor.
It looked like things would get even better for the Blues moments later when Wes Fogden burst into the box, only to have his run crudely ended by Christian Burgess.
Referee Andy D’Urso pointed straight to the spot, but Taylor’s bottom corner-bound penalty was well saved by Pools keeper Andy Rafferty.
It was a breath-taking start to the match, played to a backdrop of non-stop chanting by a pumped-up Fratton faithful.
And the hosts were looking like scoring with every attack against a nervous Hartlepool defence who were struggling to cope with Pompey’s attacking verve.
Twice they failed to get to grips with a delivery from Holmes before eventually being able to hack the ball to safety.
Hartlepool finally threatened on 30 minutes and it took a fine block by Webster to keep out Jack Compton’s drive, not realising the former Pompey winger had been flagged offside.
Trevor Carson then came off his line to punch clear Simon Walton’s corner as the visitors tried to gather some momentum going forward.
But it was Pompey who finished the half on the ascendancy as Danny Hollands swapped passes with Holmes before lashing narrowly over from an acute angle.
Half Time: Pompey 1 Hartlepool 0
Compton made way for Lewis Hawkins as Hartlepool looked to step up a few gears at the start of the second half.
They had not received much of a look-in before the break, but did suddenly appear to have more conviction.
Carson did well to cut out Luke James’ cut-back before a free-kick from deep bounced straight through to Pompey’s keeper.
Ferry was understandably tiring after so long on the sidelines and made way for Rhys McCabe on 69 minutes.
But it was Jed Wallace who came close to doubling the Blues’ advantage soon after, bursting into the box before forcing a near-post save from Rafferty.
And Holmes was still providing a threat with his low balls into the box, one of which somehow evaded everyone on its way across the face of goal.
There was a standing ovation for the hard-working Fogden when he left the pitch on 86 minutes to be replaced by Ertl.
Pompey, meanwhile, were still searching for the second goal that would certainly have killed Hartlepool off.
They ultimately had to settle for just the one, but thankfully it proved enough to secure another vital victory.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Carson; Webster, N’Gala, Whatmough, Shorey; Ferry (c) (McCabe 69), Hollands; Wallace, Fogden (Ertl 86), Holmes (Drennan 90+3); Taylor
Goals: Webster 2
Subs not used: Smith, Devera, Bradley, Jervis
Hartlepool (4-2-3-1): Rafferty; Duckworth, Collins (c), Burgess (Harrison 79), Holden; Walton, Walker; Barmby (Franks 65), Poole, Compton (Hawkins 46); James
Subs not used: Jones, Oliver, Rowbotham, Richards
Referee: Andy D’Urso
Attendance: 15,273 (187 away fans)