Pompey Reserves’ Premier League Cup campaign came to a premature end with a 2-1 qualifying round defeat to Plymouth at Home Park.
But the game was timely for Dion Donohue, who returned to action – and wore the captain’s armband – following a groin injury.
Alex Bass was allowed to feature despite being on loan at Torquay, while Dan Smith and Bradley Lethbridge – currently at Bognor – also featured.
The hosts took the lead in just the sixth minute when Alex Battle slotted home following a neat passing move.
But the Blues grew into the game and levelled after the break, with Haji Mnoga cutting inside from the right and finding the bottom corner with a neat finish.
They might have forged ahead soon after, but Mike Cooper made a fine save to deny the lively Smith.
Instead it was Plymouth who progressed to the group stages, as Cameron Sangster followed up to score after Bass had denied Battle.
First team coach Jake Wigley said: “It was disappointing to concede so early, but we worked our way back into the game.
"We got into good areas, but our decision making and end product let us down."
“We were dominating by the end of the first half and didn’t really want the break to come, although we levelled just after it.
“It looked like we were getting on top, but made three substitutions and lost a bit of momentum after that.
“Haji came off injured, while we brought Dion off because he’s been out for a while and it was his first game back.
“We got into good areas, but our decision making and end product let us down. A little bit more quality in and around the box was needed.”
Plymouth (4-3-3): Cooper; Hodges, Peck, Purrington, Garside; Rooney, Randell, Sangster; Fletcher (c), Lolos (Goulty 66), Battle (Bentley 90)
Subs not used: Townsend, Boyd, Collum
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Bass; Mnoga (Kavanagh 55), Casey, Dandy, Flint; Read, Donohue (c) (Whiting 62); Bridgman, Maloney (Johnston 68), Lethbridge; Smith
Subs not used: L.Pitman, Stanley
Referee: Steve Annis