Blues return to winning ways
Christian Burgess found the target as Pompey returned to winning ways at Leyton Orient.
The Blues recovered from successive league defeats to claim all three points in an absorbing contest in the capital.
They had to wait until after the interval to grab the game’s only goal, though, with Burgess heading home from a corner.
Paul Cook made two changes from the side that were beaten by Doncaster the previous week.
Amine Linganzi was handed a first league start in the centre of midfield, while Kyle Bennett came in wide on the left.
Former Pompey loanees Alex Cisak and Paul McCallum both featured for the hosts, but Nigel Atangana had not fully recovered from a groin problem.
The first half was a goalless – but entertaining – affair, with both sides creating chances and the officials at the source of some controversial moments.
It was a quick start from the hosts, who had a corner hacked clear before David Forde denied McCallum with his legs.
Conor Chaplin then thought he had broken the deadlock with a neat sweeping finish from Enda Stevens’ cross, only for the linesman’s flag to cut his celebrations short.
Orient were soon forced into an early change after Liam Kelly had to be stretchered off, although it took almost four minutes for Sandro Semedo to get ready to replace him.
The first of three penalty appeals was made by the Blues on eight minutes, but referee Christopher Sarginson did not believe Gareth Evans’ cross had been turned behind by a hand.
An unmarked Linganzi should have broken the deadlock seconds later, heading Gary Roberts’ corner wide from a few yards out.
Then it was the Londoners’ turn to cry ‘penalty’ when Callum Kennedy’s free-kick appeared to be handled by Burgess.
Pompey’s defender then bundled over Yvan Erichot for good measure, but Sarginson again shook his head.
The visitors were causing problems with their constant pressing and when Chaplin forced a mistake from Cisak, the keeper recovered well to deny his opponent.
Bennett was proving a nuisance with his probing runs and one ended with a shot that was inadvertently diverted behind by Chaplin.
And it was Bennett who had the third penalty shout on 29 minutes. He neatly side-stepped Gavin Massey and looked to be tripped, but Sarginson disagreed once more and, adding insult to injury, also booked the winger.
He narrowly failed to find the target with a shot from the edge of the box soon after, while Chaplin’s fierce volley also went inches wide before the break.
Leyton Orient 0
There was a great Blues opening just after the restart when Stevens delivered a delightful low cross into the box.
It looked like the ball would land perfectly for Chaplin to convert, only for the striker to slip at the worst possible moment.
But the visitors were then caught in possession at the back, with Forde just about leaping high enough to stop Alan Dunne from chipping him.
It was a defender who finally opened the scoring for Pompey on 57 minutes, however.
Roberts did well to win a corner on the left side and when Carl Baker whipped the ball into the box, BURGESS rose highest to head home.
Cook made a double switch soon after, with Linganzi and Chaplin making way for Danny Rose and Curtis Main.
There was still work to be done at the other end, though, and a dangerous Kennedy free-kick had to be scrambled to safety.
But Leyton Orient were leaving gaps at the back for Pompey to exploit, although the visitors were just lacking a final killer ball in their attempts to double the lead.
Roberts had an effort deflected wide following some good link-up play with Bennett, while a couple of fine Baker crosses could not quite be converted.
The hosts were looking increasingly ragged at the back, with the Blues looking more likely to add to the scoring.
And they were almost gifted a second goal on 81 minutes when Nicky Hunt headed Baker’s cross against his own post.
But Orient were certainly not out of the contest and a corner led to two shots in quick succession, both of which were blocked.
That was as close as the Londoners came to snatching a share of the spoils, however, as Pompey’s travelling army were able to celebrate a win on the road.
Leyton Orient (4-4-2): Cisak; Hunt, Erichot, Parkes, Kennedy; Janse, Kelly (c) (Semedo 9), Massey, Nnomo (Palmer 82); McCallum (Dunne 46), Simpson
Subs not used: Sargeant, Pollock, Benedicic, Bowery
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Linganzi (Rose 67), Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Bennett (Lalkovic 82); Chaplin (Main 67)
Goals: Burgess 57
Booked: Bennett, Stevens
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Lalkovic, Smith
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Attendance: 6,078 (1,328 Pompey fans)