Wallace makes up for penalty miss with late winner
Jed Wallace made amends for a missed penalty by snatching a late winner against Exeter at Fratton Park.
The midfielder had earlier sent his second half spot-kick high over the bar after both Josh Passley and James Dunne struck the woodwork.
But all was forgiven when, in the dying seconds, he fired in his 13th goal of the season to send the home crowd wild with delight.
With Matt Tubbs recovering from a knock, Andy Awford was able to name an unchanged side for the third match in succession.
And they started in probing fashion without managing to find a route through the defence to threaten Grecians keeper Christy Pym.
It was the visitors who first to get a shot away, although Danny Butterfield’s long-range effort flew well wide.
Tubbs then tried his luck at the other end and although he found the target, the shot was weak and comfortable for Pym.
Wallace found more power on 13 minutes, but the ball flew narrowly wide and the same player also saw a threaded pass for Tubbs intercepted by Exeter skipper Matt Oakley.
It was an open contest with the action quickly switching from one end to the other before eventually fading out in the final third.
But Passley was inches away from breaking the deadlock midway through the first half.
The right wing-back collected Dan Butler’s clever cut-back and curled a shot against the crossbar.
Paul Jones was immediately called into action at the other end, first keeping out Tom Nichols’ angled drive and then Liam Sercombe’s follow-up.
As Exeter enjoyed their most productive spell of the half, Paul Robinson was forced to hook clear Jordan Moore-Taylor’s goal-bound header.
The hosts did have one last chance of their own before the break when Jack Whatmough sent Wallace’s corner back into the mix, but Pym did well to gather.
Half Time: Pompey 0 Exeter 0
Awford made an attacking switch at the start of the second half as Passley made way for Andy Barcham.
But it was Wallace who almost grabbed a fortuitous opener on 51 minutes, with a shot that took a huge deflection off Butterfield and looped inches past the post.
Nichols should have done better at the other end, but fired straight at Jones after doing well to win the ball.
For the most part, however, chances were at a premium as both sides struggled to find a creative spark.
But Dunne brought a quiet crowd back to life on 67 minutes with a ferocious 30-yard strike that cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar.
It was the Grecians who then went close to forging ahead themselves when, following a scramble in the box, Oakley prodded wide from close range.
Pompey should have taken the lead on 73 minutes, though, as Tubbs tried to race through on goal and was crudely brought down by Christian Ribeiro.
Referee Patrick Miller pointed to the spot – despite the visitors protesting that the challenge had taken place outside the box – but Wallace skied the penalty high over the top.
The Blues stayed on the attack and Ryan Taylor twice went close with headers from Butler crosses – the first drifting wide and the second saved by Pym.
But they were almost caught out at the other end, as Arron Davies’ effort from the edge of the box clipped the top of the bar.
Exeter enjoyed a late flurry of attacks as they tried to snatch a winner, but it was Pompey who secured all three points at the death.
WALLACE atoned for his miss from the spot in the 90th minute when he surged forward and curled a low shot under Pym’s desperate dive and into the net.
Pompey then held on throughout stoppage-time to stretch their unbeaten run to four matches and keep a fourth successive clean sheet.
Pompey (3-5-2): Jones; Devera, Robinson (c), Whatmough; Passley (Barcham 46), Dunne, Wallace (Atangana 90+2), Hollands, Butler; Tubbs, Taylor
Goals: Wallace 90
Booked: Wallace, Atangana
Subs not used: Poke, Chorley, Ertl, Westcarr, Chaplin
Exeter (3-5-2): Pym; Ribeiro, Oakley, Moore-Taylor; Davies, Sercombe, Butterfield, Harley (Morrison 63), Woodman; Nicholls (Noble 82), Nichols (Wheeler 76)
Booked: Harley, Ribeiro, Butterfield
Subs not used: Hamon, Bennett, McAllister, Keohane
Referee: Patrick Miller
Attendance: 14,097 (825 away fans)