|Dagenham & Redbridge||1|
Pompey fought from behind to beat Dagenham and charge right back into the automatic promotion race.
It looked like being a miserable afternoon in the capital when Ashley Hemmings’ goal ensured the hosts would go in ahead at the break.
But the mood improved in the second half, with Michael Doyle volleying in the equaliser before Christian Burgess headed the Blues into the lead.
Gareth Evans then came off the bench to add his name to the scoresheet late on, with Kyle Bennett capping off a memorable 45 minutes of football.
Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat both Notts County and Carlisle at Fratton Park.
And there was plenty of anticipation among the 1,659 away fans who had made the journey up from the south coast.
But there was not much to excite them in a drab opening to the contest, with neither side looking particularly threatening.
The visitors had a couple of half chances and Daggers keeper Mark Cousins was forced to race from his line to stop Gary Roberts racing onto Adam McGurk’s hooked pass.
Bennett was then neatly released by Enda Stevens down the left, bursting into the box and seeing a shot blocked.
Their best opening arrived on 23 minutes, however, when the hosts failed to deal with a Ben Davies free-kick.
Bennett picked the ball up and floated a cross to the far post, where it was headed clear by Oliver Muldoon, only for Danny Hollands to send a 25-yard volley flying narrowly over the bar.
But that only seemed to spark Dagenham into life and finally create some chances of their own.
Paul Jones did well to deny Matty Cash from point-blank range after the ball had flown through a sea of bodies.
But he could not prevent League Two’s basement side from breaking the deadlock on 34 minutes.
Justin Hoyte’s free-kick was headed on by Christian Doidge for Hemmings, whose acrobatic over-head effort looped over the keeper and into the net.
Dagenham should really have doubled the advantage moments later, but an unmarked Hoyte headed Josh Passley’s cross over.
Pompey were struggling to find any fluency in their forward play, although Michael Smith did hammer a shot narrowly wide just before the break.
Dagenham & Redbridge 1
The visitors had an early chance to draw level when former Blues loanee Passley was penalised for a handball.
Roberts sent a decent delivery into the box, but Matt Clarke could only head it over as he arrived at the far post.
Pompey were unsurprisingly now playing with a lot more urgency and one quick break ended in Davies’ cross having to be cleared behind by Clevid Dikamona.
And the travelling support finally had something to cheer as their side drew level with a fine goal just before the hour mark.
Roberts collected a long ball down the left from Stevens and pinged in a cross that DOYLE met with a fine low volley from just inside the box.
Pompey were not done there, however, and soon heaped more pressure on their shell-shocked opponents.
Bennett was next to threaten after being fed by Smith, but his effort caught a deflection and bobbled wide.
There was an almighty scramble from the resulting corner that ended with Davies sending in a fierce cross that nobody could connect with.
But Dagenham soon caused some concern at the other end, with Stevens forced to hack clear a corner from the line and Oliver Muldoon’s follow-up then held by Jones.
The mood of the Blues support soon switched from concern to joy, however, as the visitors took the lead on 68 minutes.
Davies was fouled wide on the right and Bennett’s free-kick was met by BURGESS, who glanced home a fine header.
Cook made his first switch with 10 minutes remaining, as Evans added some fresh legs to the attack by replacing McGurk.
And it was EVANS who secured the victory when he stole in to head home Bennett’s free-kick from close range.
But there was still time for the result to become even more emphatic as BENNETT deservedly got a goal of his own, jinking into the box before slamming a shot past Cousins.
Dagenham & Redbridge (4-1-4-1): Cousins; Hoyte, Hyam, Dikamona, Widdowson; Muldoon (Cureton 69); Passley (Hawkins 75), Labadie (c), Cash (Boucaud 75), Hemmings; Doidge
Goals: Hemmings 34
Booked: Passley, Doidge, Hoyte
Subs not used: Moore, Pennell, Chambers, McClure
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (Evans 80), Roberts (McNulty 89), Bennett (Naismith 89); Smith
Goals: Doyle 59, Burgess 68, Evans 85, Bennett 88
Booked: Doyle, Smith, Clarke
Subs not used: Murphy, Webster, Close, Chaplin
Referee: Lee Collins
Attendance: 3,122 (1,659 Pompey fans)