Bristol Rovers 0
Oliver Hawkins opened his goalscoring account as Pompey returned to winning ways against Bristol Rovers.
He headed home just before the interval of an absorbing contest that was often played at a breathless pace.
The Fratton faithful played their part by creating a vibrant atmosphere and Brett Pitman made sure they had plenty to celebrate by adding a second half brace.
Kenny Jackett kept faith with the side that were beaten at Scunthorpe at the weekend.
But there was no place for Conor Chaplin among the substitutes, with his hamstring injury handing Curtis Main a seat on the bench.
The visitors looked dangerous on the break in the opening stages and Christian Burgess got in the way of Ellis Harrison’s strike before Joe Partington’s fine cross somehow evaded Billy Bodin.
Matt Clarke then just about did enough to put off Tom Nichols after the forward had latched onto a ball over the top and advanced on goal.
But the Blues were providing a threat of their own and it took a key interception from skipper Tom Lockyer to prevent Hawkins turning in Jamal Lowe’s teasing delivery at the far post.
The winger sent in another dangerous centre moments later and this time it was Pitman who was unable to get on the end of it.
Limbs were then flying at the other end of the pitch on 21 minutes, with Burgess and Clarke flinging themselves in front of shots from Bodin and Ollie Clarke respectively.
Both sides had a man cautioned before the break, with Stuart O’Keefe penalised for a foul on Partington and Harrison shown a yellow card for tugging back Burgess.
It looked like the players would be heading in all square at the break, but the Blues broke the deadlock – in confusing fashion – on 42 minutes.
Dion Donohue’s first cross was blocked, but his second was perfect for HAWKINS to meet at the back post.
Chris Lines made a valiant attempt to hack the ball from the line, although only succeeded in sending it into the roof of the net.
But celebrations were cut short by a linesman’s flag, only to start back up again when referee John Busby conferred with his colleague and awarded the goal.
(1 – 0)
Donohue’s set-pieces were proving a dangerous weapon in the Blues’ armoury and one free-kick had to be punched clear.
O’Keefe then tried to convert the loose ball, only for a well-placed Harrison to boot it away and to safety.
Hawkins soon did well to steal the ball from Lockyer and draw a foul, which earned the defender his side’s second yellow card.
Pitman was way off target with the resulting free-kick, however, sending the ball high into the Fratton End.
But the Blues skipper showed some fine trickery to dribble the ball along the byline just past the hour mark, although there was nobody in the box to meet his cutback.
There was a scare at the other end when Bodin burst into the box, only for Nathan Thompson to make a fine challenge to dispossess him.
And O’Keefe then managed to get in the way of Liam Sercombe’s shot when the midfielder received the ball on the edge of the area.
But a quick Pompey break really should have resulted in the hosts extending their advantage on 75 minutes.
Thompson started the move by stealing possession and when O’Keefe delivered the ball to the far post, Hawkins could only guide it wide.
PITMAN did make sure of the victory soon after, though, meeting Matty Kennedy’s pin-point cross with a firm header that Sam Slocombe could not keep out.
Hawkins was afforded a standing ovation when he made his way off the pitch to be replaced by Gareth Evans for the final few minutes.
But PITMAN’s evening was not over and he shrugged off the challenge of Lockyer with ease before slamming home Pompey’s third goal to complete a successful night.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): McGee; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Donohue; Close, O’Keefe; Lowe, Pitman (c), Kennedy (Bennett 87); Hawkins (Evans 82)
Goals: Hawkins 42, Pitman 77, 85
Subs not used: Bass, Talbot, Haunstrup, Naismith, Main
Bristol Rovers (4-3-3): Slocombe; Partington, Lockyer (c), Sweeney (Brown 78), Bola; Sercombe, Lines, Clarke; Bodin, Harrison (Dunwald 78), Nichols (Telford 66)
Booked: Harrison, Lockyer
Subs not used: Smith, Broadbent, Menayese, Broom
Referee: John Busby