POMPEY 1 NOTTS COUNTY 2
Pompey were caught by a couple of sucker punches as they fell to defeat against Nott County at Fratton Park.
They dominated for most of the contest, but were caught out at the back and fell behind to Adam Campbell’s neat finish.
Conor Chaplin levelled within a few minutes and it looked like the Blues would go on to secure all three points.
But some more sloppy play allowed Campbell to strike again and despite Aaron Collins’ red card, the Magpies held on for the victory.
Paul Cook stuck with the same side that picked up a point at table-topping Plymouth the previous week.
That meant a fit-again Matt Clarke had to be content with a place on the bench, as Tom Davies continued alongside Christian Burgess in defence.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the opposition line-up, with Carl Dickinson and Richard Duffy both starting for the visitors.
And it was the Magpies who were first to threaten, with Robert Milsom not able to guide his header past David Forde.
But Pompey dominated the opening stages, enjoying plenty of possession and showing attacking inset from the outset.
They should have broken the deadlock on six minutes, with Chaplin somehow stabbing Enda Stevens’ cross wide from just a few yards out.
Kyle Bennett also dragged a long-range effort past the post, but with County keeping so many men behind the ball, the hosts were struggling to test keeper Adam Collin.
They were almost caught on the break when Jonathan Forte laid the ball off for Milsom, whose effort grazed the top of the bar.
Chaplin then missed another golden opportunity when he raced onto a long clearance and bore down on goal.
He tried to slide it past Collin, but the keeper saved and Chaplin slipped as he tried to gather the loose ball.
Pompey were able to steal back possession, however, and Collin did well again to stop Carl Baker’s effort going in at the near post.
But despite the home side’s dominance, it was Notts County who opened the scoring on 21 minutes.
The Blues defence were far too slow to stop Campbell collecting Duffy’s pass, turning and firing a sharp shot past Forde.
They were not behind for long, though, and after missing two great chances, CHAPLIN ensured it was third time lucky.
Bennett and Gary Roberts combined well down the left and the latter fired in a low cross that the striker slammed home.
Rather than step up a gear following all that action, however, the game then hit a lull as the interval approached.
Benett and Campbell both hit long-range efforts high over the bar, while Baker struck a fierce drive straight at Collin as the first half petered out.
Half Time: Pompey 1 Notts County 1
There was an injury scare soon after the restart when Gareth Evans hurt himself while conceding a free-kick.
He received treatment on the sidelines before returning to the action, but spent the next few minutes hobbling around the pitch.
Pompey then created a decent chance when Chaplin crossed into the box, but Bennett is not famed for his heading abilities and diverted the ball wide.
Cook soon made his first switch, with Stevens appearing to pick up a hamstring injury and being replaced at left-back by Kal Naismith.
The Blues kept plugging away, but the chances were not coming along as frequently as they had before the break.
In an attempt to liven things up in attack, Chaplin was withdrawn and Curtis Main was tasked with finding a winner.
But, within seconds, the hosts instead found themselves behind, with Campbell racing through to slot past Forde.
The keeper – like the rest of his team-mates – was incensed, believing that Davies had been fouled in the build-up and his protests resulted in a yellow card.
Pompey’s final substitution soon followed, with Bennett making way for Milan Lalkovic wide on the left.
But it was Roberts who threatened next, stealing the ball form Louis Laing, only to see his low cross cut out.
And the Blues were soon handed a numerical advantage when Collins dived in late on Forde and was shown a straight red card.
They immediately set about trying to find an equaliser and Collin kept out Main’s header from a pin-point Baker delivery.
Burgess was thrown up the field as an extra striker, with the hosts keen to push forward at every opportunity.
The Fratton faithful were buoyed by a display of six additional minutes from the fourth official and Baker twice went close to finding a leveller.
First, his shot was superbly saved by Collin from point-blank range and then, from the resulting corner, he narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Roberts also fizzed a shot inches past the post, as Notts County held firm to leave with all three points.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens (Naismith 59); Linganzi, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Bennett (Lalkovic 74); Chaplin (Main 70)
Goals: Chaplin 27
Booked: Forde, Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Rose, Smith
Notts County (4-1-4-1): Collin; Tootle, Laing, Hollis, Dickinson (c); Duffy; Campbell (Smith 90), Richards, Milsom, Forte (Rodman 90); Collins
Goals: Campbell 21, 71
Sent off: Collins
Subs not used: Loach, Hewitt, Edwards, O’Connor, Burke
Referee: Nigel Miller
Attendance: 17,269 (364 away fans)