Exeter 1 Pompey 1
Jed Wallace was on target as Pompey started the 2014/15 campaign with a 1-1 draw at Exeter.
The Blues were well below par before the break and trailed to Tom Nichols’ close range finish.
But they were much better in the second half and last season’s top scorer Wallace grabbed a deserved equaliser to ensure a share of the spoils.
Andy Awford handed a debut to three players, with Paul Jones, James Dunne and Craig Westcarr all named in the starting 11.
Exeter – who have been beset by off-field problems over the summer – had the first opportunity when Matt Grimes sent a free-kick flying narrowly over.
The action then switched to the other end, where Wallace tricked his way into the box before firing into the side netting.
But, in truth, it was not proving to be the most exciting half of football as both sides struggled to find any fluency going forward.
The hosts livened things up on 27 minutes, however, when they broke the deadlock.
Grimes’ cross somehow made its way through a sea of blue-shirted bodies, leaving Nichols with a simple finish from just a few yards out.
Jack Whatmough ensured Pompey did not fall further behind, first by heading clear a dangerous cross and then making a fine attack-ending challenge.
Ben Chorley was soon forced to clear behind a low Aaron Dawson ball into the box, as City enjoyed a period of pressure.
The Blues had one chance to get back on level terms before the break, but the Grecians were able to clear their lines after Ryan Taylor had headed down Nicky Shorey’s cross.
Half Time: Exeter 1 Pompey 0
The second half was much more frenetic than the first, although Adam Webster could not quite guide Wallace’s corner on target soon after the restart.
Exeter keeper Christy Pym was finally called into action on 52 minutes, saving shots from Westcarr and Wallace in quick succession.
But it was not all one-way traffic and Jones did well to keep out Liam Sercombe’s thunderbolt before stopping Nichols finding the net from an acute angle.
Awford decided action was needed and brought on Nigel Atangana in place of Westcarr on the hour mark.
Andy Barcham then had a great chance to level, bursting through on goal and forcing Pym off his line to make a fine block.
It was his last meaningful action, though, as the winger made way for Miles Storey on 72 minutes.
Pompey then thought they should have had a penalty for handball when Taylor’s effort was blocked in the box.
But the Blues were level moments later, as WALLACE collected Atangana's pass and cut inside before driving home through a packed Exeter box.
Whatmough might have put them ahead soon after, but Pym was able to save his close range header.
That injected plenty of confidence into the visitors and the pushed forward in search of a winner.
But Pompey were unable to find the second goal that would have ensurd a perfect start to the season.
Exeter (3-5-1-1): Pym; Bennett (c), Baldwin, Tillson; Dawson, Sercombe (Butterfield 86), Oakley, Grimes, Woodman; Keohane; Nichols (Wheeler 80)
Goals: Nichols 27
Subs not used: Hamon, Tisdale, Davies, Pope, Watkins
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Webster, Chorley (c), Whatmough, Shorey; Dunne, Hollands; Wallace, Westcarr (Atangana 60), Barcham (Storey 72); Taylor (Bird 88)
Goals: Wallace 74
Subs not used: Poke, Wynter, Robinson, Awford
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Attendance: 5,694 (1,548 Pompey fans)