Ali Hall came off the bench to fire Pompey Women to a hard-fought victory at Billericay in their first fixture of 2024.
It looked as though the title-chasing Blues would be frustrated in their efforts to take three points back to the south coast until the midfielder struck just a few minutes after entering the fray.
Jay Sadler made two changes from the side that exited the FA Cup with a narrow derby defeat just before Christmas.
Dani Lane and Emily Pitman were both named in the starting line-up, as Emma Jones and Sophie Quirk made way.
The visitors looked to attack straight from kick-off and an early angled attempt by Beth Lumsden was saved by Alex Baker.
And the same player than fired narrowly past the post after Georgie Freeland’s cut-back had been left by Ava Rowbotham.
A corner soon fell to Pitman and her shot was blocked, as the Blues continued to dominate the opening stages.
But although they were dominating possession and looking comfortable on the ball, the chances started to dry up as the half progressed.
There was not much to be worried about at the other end, although Hannah Haughton made a couple of regulation stops to deny Leanne Bell against her former club.
Half Time: Billericay 0 Pompey 0
The Blues were looking to move through the gears when the action restarted and soon had an opportunity to break the deadlock.
Lumsden threaded a neat pass through for Pitman, whose shot from a tight angle could only find the side netting.
They were still being frustrated in their search for a breakthrough, however, and Sadler turned to his bench in search of inspiration.
The first two players introduced soon combined, with Ella Humphrey meeting a Jones delivery and seeing her strike deflected over.
Hall then replaced Lane and within three minutes of coming on, she had finally fired patient Pompey into the lead.
The visitors launched a blistering counter-attack and Jones collected the ball from Leeta Rutherford before delivering a low centre that was converted by HALL.
And the Blues saw out the remainder of the contest with relative ease to start the new year in successful fashion.
Attention now turns to next weekend’s mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash with Hashtag United at Westleigh Park, with tickets on sale now.
Pompey: Haughton (c); Barrett, Younger, Casley, Collins; Rowbotham (Humphrey 64), Rutherford, Lane (Hall 75); Freeland (Rolf 87), Pitman (Jones 64), Lumsden (Wild 90+1)