Webster, Taylor and Fogden on target in Blues triumph
Pompey took another giant stride towards safety with a 3-2 victory over struggling Bristol Rovers at a packed Fratton Park.
Adam Webster opened the scoring with his second goal in as many home games, while Ryan Taylor later diverted Danny Hollands’ shot into the net.
But the visitors hit back to level on each occasion, with Matt Harrold’s brace the least they deserved for a spirited performance.
It was the Blues who secured all three points after the break, though, as Wes Fogden came off the bench to snatch the winner.
Andy Awford made two changes from the side that comfortably won at Dagenham the previous week.
Webster recovered from an ankle knock to replace Daniel Alfei at right-back, while Rhys McCabe came in for the injured Simon Ferry in midfield.
Pompey had come tearing out of the blocks in their previous two matches, but it was a more sedate opening this time around.
They actually had to soak up a bit of Pirates pressure in the early stages, with Jack Whatmough on hand to make one timely interception and Bondz N’Gala having to head a couple of long balls clear.
But the Blues still managed to break the deadlock on 11 minutes – with WEBSTER once again the surprising goal hero.
The teenage right-back – who netted the Fratton winner against Hartlepool a fortnight earlier – fired a 20-yard left-footed effort into the bottom corner after Rovers had failed to deal with Taylor’s ball into the box.
Pompey had an opportunity to double their advantage moments later, but Michael Drennan was unable to beat Steve Mildenhall from the tightest of angles.
The visitors were still threatening themselves, however, and it took a stunning save from Trevor Carson to keep out Michael Smith’s far post header.
Harrold then beat Whatmough to Lee Brown’s left-wing cross, but could only send the ball over the crossbar.
The striker did manage to find the net on 22 minutes, although his effort took a huge deflection off N’Gala to wrong-foot Carson and squirm through the keeper’s grasp.
Rovers did not look like a side who had won just once on their league travels all season as they continued to test the Pompey defence.
David Clarkson was next to go close after beating Whatmough down the right, but his angled drive was kept out by Carson’s legs.
The Blues then began to exert some pressure of their own as Jed Wallace fired narrowly over before Mildenhall did well to keep out Taylor’s flicked header.
But they received a let-off on 35 minutes when Seanan Clucas’ drive was deflected behind and Brown’s corner was headed against his own crossbar by Hollands.
Pompey managed to restore their advantage soon after, however, with a move straight off the training ground.
Ricky Holmes’ corner picked out Hollands on the edge of the box and his low drive was diverted into the net by TAYLOR.
But the lead lasted less than a minute as Harrold was left in too much space to convert Brown’s cross with a diving header.
Half Time: Pompey 2 Bristol Rovers 2
Pompey had not been at their best before the break and were struggling for fluency after it.
Awford made his first substitution on 55 minutes, as Fogden replaced Drennan in the Blues’ attacking midfield trio.
In truth, neither side was looking particularly threatening following such an open first half of football at Fratton.
Mildenhall had to punch clear a Holmes free-kick from deep, while Tom Parkes did well to cut out Taylor’s flick before the ball could reach Hollands.
That was about the sum of the action – until Pompey suddenly burst to life midway through the half.
Holmes was first to have a crack, but could only fire straight at Mildenhall after being fed by Fogden.
But it was FOGDEN who restored the hosts’ lead on 70 minutes, bundling the ball over the line from a yard out after Holmes’ cross had been headed back by Taylor.
Mildenhall then kept out Holmes’ fierce angled drive before Whatmough flicked a header inches wide from the resulting corner.
Rovers threw on an extra striker as they chased a leveller, but the Blues comfortably held on for a fourth successive victory.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Carson; Webster, N’Gala, Whatmough, Shorey (c); McCabe (Ertl 78), Hollands; Drennan (Fogden 55), Wallace, Holmes; Taylor (Agyemang 87)
Goals: Webster 11, Taylor 40, Fogden 70
Booked: McCabe, Whatmough, N’Gala
Subs not used: Smith, Alfei, Devera, Bradley
Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Mildenhall; Woodards (Clucas 23), Parkes (Gillespie 80), McChrystal (c), Brown; Smith (Broghammer 28), Lockyer, Clarke, Mohamed; Clarkson, Harrold
Goals: Harrold 22, 41
Booked: Woodards, Brown, Parkes
Subs not used: Gough, Santos, O’Toole, Harding
Referee: James Adcock
Attendance: 17,998 (2,301 away fans)