POMPEY 2 CHELTENHAM 2
The ‘TnT’ partnership continued their explosive form, but Pompey had to settle for a point against Cheltenham.
Matt Tubbs showed predatory instincts to put them ahead early on, only for Eliot Richards and Will Packwood to quickly turn the game on its head.
Ryan Taylor headed the Blues level just before the break, but the visitors saw out the second half to ensure a share of the spoils.
Andy Awford made one enforced change from the side that beat Luton at the weekend.
Adam Webster came into the back three to replace Paul Robinson, who fractured his cheekbone against the Hatters.
There was a familiar face in the visitors’ line-up with former Pompey keeper Trevor Carson starting between the sticks.
The hosts came roaring out of the blocks and almost broke the deadlock in the opening seconds, but Jed Wallace’s teasing cross was just too high for the leaping Tubbs.
Taylor immediately sent the ball back into the box towards Andy Barcham, but his effort was blocked by Robins skipper Troy Brown.
Pompey remained on the attack and Taylor collected Wallace’s pass, turned neatly and lashed a shot inches past the post.
But they did forge ahead on 17 minutes thanks to some great work down the right by Barcham.
The wing-back did brilliantly to beat Craig Braham-Barrett and square the ball for TUBBS to fire home from close range.
But the lead lasted just 92 seconds as the Blues failed to deal with a long ball by Matt Richards, allowing Shaun Harrad to head down for Eliot Richards to slam past Paul Jones.
And things went from bad to worse for Pompey when Packwood was then left all alone to convert Matt Richards’ free-kick from deep.
The shell-shocked hosts tried to move through the gears, but struggled to test Carson despite seeing plenty of the ball.
TAYLOR improved the crowd’s mood just before the break, however, when he glanced home Dan Butler’s free-kick after Wallace had been fouled wide on the right.
Half Time: Pompey 2 Cheltenham 2
Awford made a change at the start of the second half with Barcham – who had received treatment before the interval – making way for Danny East.
And the Blues were once again quick to get going, with Tubbs chasing down a defender and firing in a shot that Carson did well to punch over.
Wallace then delivered a dangerous low cross that Taylor – at full stretch – could not quite reach as he slid in.
Taylor was in imperious form and played a superb cross-field ball for Butler on 59 minutes, although the wing-back’s pass was just too heavy for Wallace.
It was Wallace who was next to have a crack but – after Tubbs had been fouled on the edge of the box – his free-kick flew straight into Carson’s arms.
Awford made his second substitution on 68 minutes, switching to a back four as Wes Fogden replaced Webster.
Pompey were pushing forward in search of a winner, although Joe Devera could only head straight at Carson after being left all alone to meet Butler’s corner.
Paul McCallum replaced James Dunne as Awford made one last attacking throw of the dice.
But Carson ensured Cheltenham would leave with a point, when he pushed away Wallace’s dangerous cut-back late on.
And Pompey had to play the final few seconds with 10 men after Jack Whatmough hobbled off following a clash with Harrad.
Pompey (3-5-2): Jones; Devera, Whatmough, Webster (Fogden 68); Barcham (East 46), Dunne (McCallum 86), Wallace, Hollands (c), Butler; Tubbs, Taylor
Goals: Tubbs 17, Taylor 43
Subs not used: Cornell, Ertl, Atangana, Chaplin
Cheltenham (4-3-2-1): Carson; Berry, Packwood (Taylor 78), Brown (c), Braham-Barrett; Sparrow, Mills, M.Richards; E.Richards (Wynter 89), Haynes (Kotwica 60); Harrad
Goals: E.Richards 18, Packwood 23
Subs not used: Gould, Vaughan, Hanks, Manset
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 13,558 (156 away fans)