It was his first Pompey start for six weeks.
And Gareth Evans marked the occasion in style, with the only goal at Walsall to keep alive play-off hopes.
The vice-captain – who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury – played a more central role than usual.
He struck 11 minutes from time with a calm finish into the net that ensured the Blues are just two points outside the top six.
Evans said: “It was a great win and it’s nice to get on the scoresheet again – it was a good day all round.
“Jamal gave me a decent little lay-off after holding it up and I managed to hit it pretty sweetly to send the ball flying into the bottom corner.
"It was a good time to score and then we were really resilient at the back yet again to keep another clean sheet."
“That’s what away-days are all about it and I enjoyed myself out there, but now we move on to the next one.
“We had a number of chances in the first half and were really dominant, although Walsall came back into it just before the break.
“Then we found our footing again in the second half and on the balance of play, I felt we deserved the win.
“It was a good time to score and then we were really resilient at the back yet again to keep another clean sheet.
“The gaffer set us up well. We’ve been working hard during the week in training and that’s really paid off.
“We’ve probably leaked a few too many goals, but have looked more solid in recent weeks and hopefully that will continue.”
Paul Cook returns to Fratton Park with his table-topping Wigan side on Easter Monday, but Evans is not affording the contest any special relevance.
He said: “I know it’s a cliché and probably boring for people to hear, but we’re taking it game by game and then we’ll see where that takes us.
“We have to treat it as just another match with three points of stake. We’re confident and believe we can beat anyone.”