Kenny Jackett rung the changes for Pompey’s Leasing.com Trophy trip to Walsall.
So he was pleased to see his side continue their defence of the silverware with a 2-1 victory at the Bescot Stadium.
Goals in each half from John Marquis and Ellis Harrison booked a place in the quarter-finals, despite Caolan Lavery’s late penalty reply.
Craig MacGillivray had already saved an earlier spot-kick and Jackett was pleased with the overall display from his troops.
The Blues boss said: “We found a way to a win against a Walsall side who pushed us hard, so we really had to dig in at times.
“It was always going to be a difficult tie – whatever side we put out – and I was delighted with our attitude after making seven changes.
"Some of the guys who have been on the fringes of the side helped us a lot and I was pleased with our application."
“Reeco Hackett-Fairchild came straight into the side after arriving the previous day and had a good hour, although he twisted his ankle slightly.
“Young Haji Mnoga also started and that’s his first game after being out injured with a foot problem for the whole of the season so far. I thought he played really well.
“We rested some people after a high number of matches because you don’t want too many injuries at this stage of the campaign.
“Some of the guys who have been on the fringes of the side helped us a lot and I was pleased with our application.
“All of our focus now goes on playing AFC Wimbledon in the league at the weekend – that’s a massive game for us.”
It was Pompey’s fourth away game in succession, with 226 travelling fans in the crowd for a low-key contest.
Jackett said: “There’s been a lot of travelling of late, so I really appreciate the support and they made a lot of noise. They’re a key part of any success we have.”