Roberts on target in Fratton stalemate
It finished all square at Fratton Park, as Pompey came from behind to secure a point in an Easter showdown with Plymouth.
They fell behind to Jake Jervis’ header, but then proceeded to dominate for most of the contest.
And the pressure paid off after the break when Gary Roberts capitalised on some uncertainty at the back to equalise.
It was the Blues who looked most likely to get a winner, but they could not find another path through to goal.
Paul Cook chose not to change the side that beat Yeovil on home soil the previous week.
There were three former Pompey players in the opposition line-up, with Sonny Bradley, Ryan Taylor and Jervis all starting.
And it was the visitors who were first to threaten when David Fox fired in a shot that was well blocked by Matt Clarke.
Carl Baker was then denied at the other end, as Bradley came charging across to make a tackle, injuring himself in the process.
The Blues forced Luke McCormick into action on 11 minutes, with the keeper showing good reactions to keep out Gareth Evans’ swerving shot.
But Argyle broke the deadlock just seconds later when Jervis met Gary Sawyer’s cross and firmly headed home at the far post.
Pompey were guilty of trying to rush things and it was only when they slowed things down and kept possession that they started to look dangerous.
The Pilgrims, however, were determined to keep hold of their lead and got plenty of men behind the ball to frustrate their hosts.
But they were indebted to McCormick on 33 minutes, with the skipper spilling Kal Naismith’s curler, only to quickly recover and stop Roberts from sliding in the loose ball.
Plymouth were still looking dangerous on the break, though, and Matty Kennedy fired into the side netting after skipping past a couple of challenges.
However, most of the action was happening at the other end of the pitch and Naismith saw a free-kick deflected narrowly over late in the half.
Half Time: Pompey 0 Plymouth 1
Pompey continued to show plenty of attacking intent after the interval and Naismith’s cleanly-struck effort forced McCormick into action.
A shot from Kyle Bennett then deflected off Yann Songo’o and flew narrowly wide, while a Naismith effort was also diverted past the post.
Plymouth were throwing themselves in front of everything and some brave defending was paying dividends.
But they contributed to the equalising goal on 57 minutes, as Pompey’s persistence finally paid off.
Baker slipped a fine pass through to Bennett and his delivery caused confusion between McCormick and Songo’o, allowing ROBERTS to nip in and score.
Pompey continued to push and an incisive passing move ended in Naismith winning a corner, from which Baker drilled wide.
Roberts became the first Blues player to be withdrawn on 67 minutes, with Conor Chaplin on to replace him.
And it was still Pompey looking the more adventurous going forward, as their opponents searched for chances on the break.
Jamal Lowe added some fresh impetus into the hosts’ attack when he was brought on for Baker on the right.
But it was Chaplin who had a great chance to give the Blues a lead on 86 minutes, only to head wide when Naismith chipped the ball up to him in the box.
Bennett then fired a free-kick narrowly over deep into stoppage-time, as Pompey had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker (Lowe 78), Roberts (Chaplin 67), Bennett; Naismith
Goals: Roberts 57
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Whatmough, Linganzi, Kabamba
Plymouth (4-2-3-1): McCormick (c); Threlkeld, Songo’o, Bradley (Sokolik 46), Sawyer; Sarcevic, Fox; Jervis (Smith 68), Carey, Kennedy (Tanner 81); Taylor
Goals: Jervis 12
Booked: Sarcevic, Threlkeld
Subs not used: Dorel, Miller, Donaldson, Garita
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Attendance: 18,625 (2,644 away fans)