POMPEY 2 ACCRINGTON 3
There was little Christmas cheer at Fratton Park as Pompey crashed to a 3-2 defeat against Accrington.
The Blues had found themselves two goals down, courtesy of efforts from Rob Atkinson and John O’Sullivan.
But they fought back well and Marcus Bean opened his account to reduce the deficit, before Craig Westcarr’s fine finish made it all square.
Paul Jones then saved a Luke Joyce penalty and the hosts looked on top from that point on.
But they were caught out late on, as Piero Mingoia scored to secure all three points for the Lancashire outfit.
Andy Awford made two changes from the side that were beaten at Tranmere a fortnight ago.
Lee Holmes was handed his home debut in place of the suspended Jed Wallace out wide, while Ben Chorley came in for Jack Whatmough at the back.
There was also a place on the bench for 17-year-old academy starlet Conor Chaplin.
Pompey began in laboured fashion, with their opponents enjoying a couple of decent opportunities in the opening stages.
First O’Sullivan drilled a free-kick straight into the wall, before Chorley managed to get his face in the way of a fierce Sean Maguire effort.
But Accrington did break the deadlock on 11 minutes after the Blues failed to properly deal with a free-kick from Joyce.
The ball fell kindly for Atkinson and the centre-back left Jones with no chance as he slammed it into the net.
And things soon got worse for the hosts, when O’Sullivan collected another loose clearance and drilled a shot into the bottom corner.
The Fratton faithful demanded an immediate reaction – and that is exactly what they got.
Danny Hollands picked out BEAN with a long throw and the on-loan midfielder bent a fine cross past helpless Stanley keeper Jack Rose.
Ryan Taylor then came close to levelling from anther mammoth Hollands throw, but could only send the ball crashing against the post.
The equaliser did arrive on 30 minutes, however, thanks to an exquisite finish from WESTCARR.
Hollands was again the provider with an incisive pass that the striker latched onto before lobbing the ball over the advancing Rose and into the net.
But the hosts looked like they would fall behind again soon after when Accrington broke quickly from a Pompey corner.
Matt Fish slid in on O’Sullivan as he burst into the box and referee Keith Hill pointed to the spot.
Joyce stepped up to take the penalty, but Jones went the right way, diving to his right to palm the ball to safety.
The Blues were then furious not to be awarded a spot-kick of their own at the other end, when Tom Aldred seemed to grab hold of Taylor’s shirt.
But they almost went in ahead at the break with a chance late on, as Chorley flicked on Westcarr’s free-kick, only to be denied by Rose.
Half Time: Pompey 2 Accrington 2
Pompey looked to pour forward at the start of the second half and it took a fine save from Rose to keep out Bean’s 12-yard pile-driver.
Westcarr then sent a dangerous low ball into the box that no-one could convert, before Bean failed to turn a Holmes cross on target.
Awford made his first switch just before the hour mark as Ricky Holmes replaced Miles Storey wide on the right.
Pompey were trying to push on whenever they could, but any balls into the box were being repelled by a well-marshalled Accrington back-line.
The visitors were not offering much at the other end, although substitute Shay McCartan did lash wide after being picked out from a corner.
And the same player then wasted a decent opening by firing high over the bar after being found unmarked following a quick counter.
It was still the Blues looking more likely to score, though, and Lee Holmes saw his effort blocked on the line after Paul Robinson had headed down Westcarr’s cross.
But Accrington forged ahead on 78 minutes when Chorley lost possession and Mingoia took advantage by accurately placing the ball past Jones’ dive.
Awford made a double substitution to try to find a way back into the game as Nigel Atangana and debutant Chaplin replaced Lee Holmes and Hollands.
But it failed to have the desired impact as Stanley held on to secure victory and leap-frog Pompey in the League Two table.
Pompey (4-4-2): Jones; Fish, Robinson, Chorley (c), Butler; Storey (R.Holmes 59), Bean, Hollands (Chaplin 85), L.Holmes (Atangana 85); Taylor, Westcarr
Goals: Bean 17, Westcarr 30
Booked: Fish, Bean
Subs not used: Poke, Devera, Shorey, Ertl
Accrington (4-2-3-1): Rose; Winnard, Aldred, Atkinson (Hunt 42), Liddle; Joyce (c), Barry (Carver 83); O’Sullivan (McCartan 46), Maguire, Mingoia; Crooks
Goals: Atkinson 11, O’Sullivan 15, Mingoia 78
Booked: Winnard, Joyce, Hunt
Subs not used: Simpson, Windass, Naismith, Gray
Referee: Keith Hill
Attendance: 14,300 (84 away fans)