Pompey Academy’s four-match winning run came to an end as they were beaten 3-2 at table-topping Exeter.
The visitors found themselves two goals down at the break and then conceded a third early in the second half after Matt Casey gave away a penalty.
But they did not simply accept defeat and reduced the deficit when Bradley Lethbridge (pictured) rose to head home Freddie Read’s corner.
Read was the provider again in the closing stages, as his free-kick was parried against Casey and into the net.
The Blues pushed forward in search of a dramatic equaliser, but the Grecians held on to extend their unbeaten run to an impressive 15 matches.
Academy head of coaching Shaun North said: “We were a bit disappointed with the overall performance from our players.
"We just need to make sure we look after the ball a bit better."
“We conceded a scrappy opener, the ball bounced in front of our goalkeeper for Exeter’s second goal and then we conceded a penalty.
“But the boys showed quite a lot of character to recover from three down to eventually make it 3-2 late on.
“It was actually a pretty even contest and it was always going to be a difficult challenge against a side who are in top spot and haven’t been beaten for so long.
“We just need to make sure we look after the ball a bit better, be more competitive and try to play on the front foot.”
Pompey: Collins; Brooks, Casey, Dandy; Johnston (Whiting 60), Read, Smith (Flint 60), Hancott; Maloney, Mayes (c), Lethbridge