|Portsmouth||0 – 3||Newport County|
Pompey’s good run of form was abruptly halted as they lost at home to Newport.
Darren Jones headed the visitors in front during a first half that was extremely low on quality.
The Blues were then controversially reduced to 10 men when Gary Roberts was shown a second booking for alleged simulation.
And County ensured that they would take all three points back to south Wales, as Scott Boden and Dean Morgan increased their lead.
Paul Cook made one change from the side that won convincingly at Accrington earlier in the week.
The switch came up front, where on-loan Michael Smith made way for top scorer Marc McNulty.
It was a warm and sunny afternoon on the south coast, but there certainly was not a spring in the step of the players.
There was not much to lift the crowd in an incredibly low-tempo opening to the game, with shots thin on the ground.
McNulty dragged the ball wide from the edge of the box, while, at the other end, Boden hit a tame effort straight into Ryan Fulton’s arms.
With little footballing action to excite those in the stands, referee Ben Toner provided the only incidents of note by brandishing a flurry of yellow cards.
Mark Byrne probably deserved his for a cynical challenge on Gareth Evans, although the bookings for Enda Stevens and Danny Hollands looked harsh.
But that was the least of Pompey’s worries, as – despite County not offering much of a threat – they fell behind on 34 minutes.
Medy Elito’s free-kick was flicked on by Boden and Jones out-muscled Fulton to head home, with Toner ignoring the cries of foul from the Blues keeper.
The hosts tried to inject some more urgency into their play, but were finding it difficult to breach a well-organised Exiles defence.
Their best chance arrived in stoppage-time when Joe Day dropped Ben Davies’ cross, but McNulty was too close to the keeper to fire the loose ball past him.
Half Time: Pompey 0 Newport 1
Cook, unsurprisingly, made an attacking switch at the break, with Evans the man to make way for Smith.
And there certainly seemed to be an increase in tempo as Pompey set about trying to find an equaliser.
Day was twice called into action in the opening stages, although was not overly troubled by a shot from Roberts and header from Smith.
But the Blues came agonisingly close to scoring on 57 minutes when Smith was inches away from meeting a fine low cross from Kyle Bennett.
Their hopes of getting anything from the game were dealt a severe blow moments later, however, when they were reduced to 10 men.
Roberts went down on the edge of the box and claimed a free-kick, but Toner decided he had dived.
Having already booked the midfielder for a trip on Elito, he displayed a second yellow card followed by a red – much to the ire of most of those inside Fratton Park.
Cook soon made his second substitution of the afternoon, withdrawing Bennett and bringing on Kal Naismith.
But Newport made their numerical advantage count on 69 minutes when they doubled their lead after Pompey had lost possession.
The ball was worked to Elito out on the left and the winger’s cross was headed home by Boden from close range.
Conor Chaplin was immediately brought on for McNulty and soon had a chance, but could only hook the ball over from 12 yards.
He then teed-up Smith with a neat pass, with Day getting down low to his right to save an angled drive.
Instead, it was Newport who scored to complete a miserable afternoon for the Blues, with substitute Morgan converting a low cross from Byrne.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans (Smith 46), Roberts, Bennett (Naismith 61); McNulty (Chaplin 70)
Sent off: Roberts (two yellow cards)
Booked: Stevens, Hollands, Burgess
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, McGurk
Newport (4-1-3-2): Day; Holmes, Donacien, Jones, Hughes; Byrne (c); Rodman, O’Sullivan, Elito (Gosling 74); Boden (Morgan 77), Ayina (Wilkinson 61)
Goals: Jones 34, Boden 69, Morgan 87
Booked: Byrne, O’Sullivan
Subs not used: Green, Partridge, Barrow, Klukowski
Referee: Ben Toner
Attendance: 16,245 (386 away fans)