Pompey 2 Cambridge 1
Pompey got their home league campaign off to the perfect start with a hard-fought victory over Cambridge.
Ryan Taylor’s textbook header ensured the Blues went in ahead at the interval, although Adam Webster was sent off just before the break.
Tom Bonner’s freak own-goal strengthened the hosts’ lead before Kwesi Appiah netted to ensure a nervy end.
Andy Awford made five changes from the side that beat Peterborough in the cup during the week.
Webster, Jack Whatmough, Nicky Shorey, Jed Wallace and Taylor all returned to the starting 11.
It was the newly-promoted visitors who were first to threaten, but Tom Elliott could not quite guide Liam Hughes’ cross on target.
At the other end, Wallace spotted Chris Dunn off his line and attempted an audacious effort that the back-pedalling keeper just about managed to tip over.
Dunn was then able to smother Taylor’s drive before Whatmough headed wide from a Wallace corner.
Cambridge looked more than capable going forward, but the Blues’ attacking presence grew as the half progressed.
Taylor was not too far away with a fierce effort from just outside the box that flew inches past the post.
And Miles Storey went even closer moments later, cutting inside and fizzing a shot against the crossbar from 30 yards.
But it took a fine stop from Paul Jones to prevent United from breaking the deadlock on 32 minutes.
The keeper had to fling himself to the right to push Greg Taylor’s well-struck goalbound effort to safety before punching clear the resulting corner.
It was the Blues who broke the deadlock soon after, though, as TAYLOR opened his account for the season.
The striker met Storey’s fine cross with a glancing header that was perfectly placed past Dunn’s grasp and into the bottom corner.
James Dunne then tried his luck with a volley from distance, but the ball sailed high over the bar.
But Pompey were dealt a blow just before the break when Webster – earlier booked for a foul on Harrison Dunk – needlessly brought down the same player to be shown a second yellow card and subsequent red.
That forced Awford into a tactical switch, with Nigel Atangana sacrificed for Joe Devera to bolster the Blues' defence.
Half Time: Pompey 1 Cambridge 0
Pompey looked to increase their advantage after the restart when Storey was crudely brought down by Hughes, but Wallace’s free-kick was headed clear.
With the Fratton faithful sensing that their side needed a boost, a non-stop chant of ‘Blue Army’ began to reverberate around the ground.
Cambridge fans responded by backing their own side, as all four sides of the stadium boosted the atmosphere.
The Blues then almost grabbed a second goal, only for Dunn to keep out Whatmough’s close-range effort.
Awford made his second switch on 63 minutes as Taylor made way for Ricky Holmes.
And Pompey were soon further ahead through a freak goal as Hughes, trying to deal with Whatmough’s header, smashed his clearance against BONNER, with the ball bouncing back into the net.
Whatmough then made a goal-saving challenge on Appiah, only for the Cambridge striker to head home from the resulting corner.
The visitors might have levelled moments later, but Jones was able to keep out Robbie Simpson’s free-kick.
There were a few nerves creeping into the crowd as the minutes ticked down, but Pompey held on to claim all three points.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Webster, Robinson, Whatmough, Shorey (c); Dunne, Hollands; Wallace Atangana (Devera 45), Storey (Bird 84); Taylor (Holmes 63)
Goals: Taylor 34, Bonner 66 (og)
Sent off: Webster (two yellow cards)
Subs not used: Bass, Butler, Awford, Westcarr
Cambridge (4-2-3-1): Dunn; Tait (Simpson 46), Bonner (Cunnington 71), Coulson, Taylor; Hughes (Chadwick 83), Champion (c); Dunk, Appiah, Donaldson; Elliott
Goals: Appiah 69
Subs not used: Norris, Lennon, Whittall, Sam-Yorke
Referee: Darren Sheldrake
Attendance: 16,671 (1,180 away fans)