Pompey conceded a goal in each half as they slipped to defeat against Blackpool in a dire contest at Fratton Park.
The visitors were not exactly sparkling, not that there would be much concern from them as they headed back north with three points in the bag.
Sloppy defending cost the Blues once more, with Kyle Vassell and Clark Robertson taking advantage to find the net.
Kenny Jackett unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that secured victory at Fleetwood earlier in the week.
That meant Matt Clarke continued to wear the captain’s armband in Brett Pitman’s absence, while a fit-again Kal Naismith had to be content with a place on the bench.
The first half was an instantly forgettable affair, with both sides guilty of a lack of quality and a poor range of passing.
It was not without chances, though, and Vassell dragged a shot past the post after Conor Chaplin had lost possession in the centre.
Jamal Lowe whipped in a decent cross at the other end of the pitch, but a diving Oli Hawkins could not quite make a connection.
He did get on the end of another Lowe delivery on 15 minutes, although this time the ball was diverted over.
The striker was left punching the turf after going down injured soon after, but was thankfully able to run it off.
Blackpool then had a chance from a Jay Spearing corner that centre-back Robertson glanced past the post.
Lowe had earlier been booked for kicking the ball away, although Vassell somehow escaped the same punishment for a blatant off-the-ball trip on Christian Burgess.
Hawkins should at least have tested Seasiders keeper Joe Lumley on 31 minutes, only to hook wide when Dion Donohue’s deep free-kick was headed down by Clarke.
Vasell was more clinical just before the interval, however, calmly slotting the ball home after stealing possession from Burgess.
Anyone expecting an increase in entertainment following the interval was in for a disappointment, as the action continued to meander along.
That was no concern for Blackpool, though, who were more than happy to protect their slender lead.
A promising move involving Lowe and Anton Walkes eventually broke down just inside the visitors’ box, while Clarke slid on to deny Jimmy Ryan at the other end.
Jackett made his first switch just before the hour mark, with Kennedy withdrawn for the fresh legs of Connor Ronan.
With things not improving a second change soon followed, as Naismith was brought on for Hawkins, who still appeared to be affected by his earlier knock.
But it soon got worse for the Blues, with Ronan’s clearance only finding Jay Spearing, whose cross from the right was nodded home from close range by an unmarked Robertson.
A late fightback was not really looking on the cards and it might have got worse, with Curtis Tilt only able to head Ryan’s centre straight into Luke McGee’s arms.
Plenty of fans took an opportunity to beat the traffic, with a steady stream heading for the exits as the minutes ticked away.
But they did not miss much, as the only cheers were of the ironic variety when Pompey finally had a late shot on target.
Pompey (4-4-2): McGee; Walkes, Burgess, Clarke (c), Donohue; Lowe, May, Close, Kennedy (Ronan 56); Chaplin, Hawkins (Naismith 61)
Subs not used: Bass, Whatmough, Haunstrup, Deslandes, Smith
Blackpool (4-2-3-1): Lumley; Turton, Tilt, Robertson, Daniel (Taylor 90+2); Spearing, Ryan (c); Mellor, Delfouneso, Solomon-Otabor (Philliskirk 68); Vassell (Gnanduillet 83)
Goals: Vassell 41, Robertson 63
Subs not used: Mafoumbi, Aimson, D’Almeida, Agyei
Referee: Gavin Ward
Attendance: 17,895 (264 away fans)
Jamal Lowe and Oli Hawkins were on target as Pompey returned to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Fleetwood.
They edged a fairly uneventful first half at Highbury Stadium and forged ahead through Lowe’s smart finish.
Hawkins’ close-range effort looked to have wrapped up a comfortable night for the Blues, although a stunning strike from Conor McAleny ensured a nervy finale.
Kenny Jackett made three enforced changes from the side beaten at Southend on Saturday.
Matty Kennedy, Hawkins and Adam May were all recalled, with the injured duo of Gareth Evans and Brett Pitman making way, along with the suspended Nathan Thompson.
Matt Clarke was handed the captain’s armband in Pitman’s absence, while there was a welcome return to the bench for a fit-again Jack Whatmough.
The first half was not one to get the pulses racing, with clear-cut chances at a premium at both ends of the pitch.
There was a shot from Conor Chaplin that took a deflection and looped safely into the arms of Alex Cairns.
Fleetwood then went close at the other end when, following good build-up play from Joe Maguire and Bobby Grant, a drive from Kyle Dempsey flew just past the post.
It was Pompey looking more dangerous, though, and Cairns had to get down to his right to keep out an effort from the impressive May.
And they broke the deadlock on 24 minutes after Ben Close’s strike from the edge of the box had been blocked.
LOWE was on to the loose ball in a flash and showed great composure to curl it past Cairns’ grasp and into the net.
Kennedy then bent a free-kick over the wall after Chaplin had been fouled, but Cairns was equal to this attempt.
The goal had given the Blues a spike in confidence and Dion Donohue’s dangerous low delivery had to be intercepted by Cian Bolger before Chaplin could convert it.
Fleetwood Town 0
The visitors made a bright start to the second half and Bolger cut out Donohue’s cross with Hawkins ready to pounce.
Then, from the resulting corner, the ball almost flew into the net off a Fleetwood player before it was scrambled clear.
But the Cod Army soon had a chance up the other end, as Ashley Hunter’s daisy-cutter flew inches past the post.
It was the Blues looking more likely to add to the scoring and Chaplin had a couple of efforts blocked, while a third chance flashed wide.
Hawkins then did well to juggle the ball and get a shot away that narrowly cleared the crossbar in front of the noisy travelling support.
Fleetwood substitute Wes Burns was off target from an acute angle on 65 minutes, while Close also saw an effort fly wide.
It looked like the visitors’ lead was to be doubled soon after when May hit a sweet curling effort from 30 yards.
The ball flew towards goal and clipped the inside of the post, but instead of nestling in the net it bounced back out.
But Pompey did have a second goal on 75 minutes, when Chaplin fed a pass through to Lowe down the right.
The winger’s low cross could only be parried away by Cairns and HAWKINS was there to convert the loose ball from close range.
Fleetwood almost pulled one back immediately, as Hunter rose in the box to meet Burns’ cross and glance a header narrowly wide.
Jackett decided the time was right to bring on some fresh legs, with Chaplin withdrawn for Connor Ronan.
And the Cod Army then saw their spirits raised, courtesy of a thunderous shot from McAleny that flew past Luke McGee and into the top corner.
Hawkins soon had a fierce effort of his own, although the Blues player was not quite able to beat Cairns.
Fleetwood poured forward in search of a late leveller, but the visitors held on to secure a welcome three-point haul.
Fleetwood (3-5-2): Cairns; Eastham, Pond (c), Bolger; Coyle (Burns 61), Dempsey, Biggins (McAleny 69), Grant, Maguire; Hunter (Sowerby 82), Madden
Goals: McAleny 81
Booked: Hunter, McAleny
Subs not used: Neal, Oliver, Jones, Schwabl
Pompey (4-4-2): McGee; Walkes, Burgess, Clarke (c), Donohue; Lowe, May, Close, Kennedy; Chaplin (Ronan 78), Hawkins
Goals: Lowe 24, Hawkins 75
Subs not used: Bass, Whatmough, Haunstrup, Deslandes, Widdrington, Smith
Referee: David Webb
Attendance: 2,561 (470 Pompey fans)
Pompey suffered a nightmare afternoon in Southend, with injuries and suspensions adding to a 3-1 defeat.
Matt Clarke’s own-goal and a Jason Demetriou strike saw the hosts roar into an early lead at Roots Hall.
Gareth Evans reduced the deficit before the break, only to pick up a knock and have to be withdrawn.
Hopes of a comeback were then dashed in the second half, as Nathan Thompson was sent off before Brett Pitman also limped down the tunnel and Demetriou added a third for the Shrimpers.
Kenny Jackett stuck with the same side that were narrowly beaten by Blackburn on home soil earlier in the week.
And it looked to be a good decision as the visitors came flying out of the traps in the warm Essex sunshine.
They should have broken the deadlock when Evans fed Conor Chaplin in the box, but the striker could only fire narrowly past the post.
Instead it was Southend who took the lead against the run of play – and thanks to a large slice of fortune – on six minutes.
Anton Walkes was caught in possession by Shayon Harrison and when Clarke tried to nick the ball from him, he could only succeed in burying the ball into the net.
That saw the confidence levels switch, with Southend unsurprisingly lifted and the Blues looking stunned.
The hosts soon capitalised on that by doubling their advantage, as Demetriou collected a pass from Stephen McLaughlin and lashed the ball home.
They almost added a third goal moments later, but Dru Yearwood’s drive flew inches wide of Luke McGee’s post.
It failed to dampen the spirits of the travelling fans packed into the North Stand, who kept backing their side.
But they were not given much reward, as Pompey struggled to find any kind of fluency going forward.
They managed to reduce the deficit on 36 minutes, however, thanks to good work from Jamal Lowe on the right.
He sent in a teasing cross and Pitman was able to turn it back into the centre, where EVANS was waiting to bundle the ball over the line.
Unfortunately, the winger got injured in the process of scoring and limped off to be replaced by Connor Ronan.
There might have been a leveller in stoppage-time, but Pitman could not quite get on the end of another dangerous delivery from Lowe.
It was Southend who had the final say of the first half, though, and Freddie Lapado should have done better than divert a free header straight at McGee.
Southend United 2
Chaplin had a speculative strike that only narrowly missed the target just after the action got back underway.
A Southend break then looked concerning for the Blues, only for McLaughlin to over-hit a pass and the danger to subside.
Lowe was looking lively at the other end of the pitch, but was unable to find the net from an acute angle after leaving his marker on the turf.
It was the visitors now looking the more ambitious side, although they were struggling to test Mark Oxley in the Shrimpers goal.
But Pompey’s task was made much tougher when Thompson caught Ben Coker with a late challenge on 64 minutes and was shown a straight red card by referee Lee Probert.
It almost – and really should have – got worse for them, as Harrison glanced Michael Timlin’s cross wide from a few yards out.
More bad news was just around the corner, though, with Pitman limping off to be replaced by Oli Hawkins.
Southend came close to making their numerical advantage count when McGee failed to claim McLaughlin’s cross.
But the keeper redeemed himself with a superb save using his legs from Simon Cox’s ferocious follow-up.
Lowe was looking the biggest threat for the Blues and after twisting his way into space on the right, the winger’s cross somehow evaded everyone as it flew out of play.
Southend wrapped up the points on 84 minutes, however, as Demetriou collected a pass from Yearwood and rolled the ball home.
Southend (4-4-2): Oxley; Demetriou (Bwomono 90+4), Turner, Ferdinand, Coker (c); McLaughlin, Yearwood, Timlin, Harrison; Cox (Wright 87), Ladapo (Fortune 73)
Goals: Clarke 6 (og), Demetriou 12, 84
Subs not used: Bishop, Kyprianou, McGlashan, Robinson
Pompey (4-4-2): McGee; Walkes, Burgess, Clarke, Donohue; Evans (Ronan 38), Close, Thompson, Lowe; Chaplin, Pitman (c) (Hawkins 69)
Goals: Evans 36
Sent off: Thompson
Subs not used: Bass, Deslandes, Haunstrup, May, Naismith
Referee: Lee Probert
Attendance: 9,397 (1,920 Pompey fans)
Pompey conceded a late goal as high-flying Blackburn left a chilly Fratton Park with all three points.
It looked like Conor Chaplin would be the hero for a second game in succession when he headed the Blues level early in the second half.
Adam Armstrong had earlier scored for Rovers and the same player struck again to deflate a large home crowd.
Lewis Travis saw red for the visitors in stoppage-time, but they held on to boost their automatic promotion hopes.
Kenny Jackett made three changes from the side that dramatically beat MK Dons at the weekend.
Chaplin was rewarded for his stoppage-time winner with a start, along with Jamal Lowe and – returning from suspension – Christian Burgess.
Matty Kennedy, Connor Ronan and Oli Hawkins were the men to make way, with the trio dropping to the bench.
There was an early warning for the hosts when Ben Close lost possession to Jack Payne. He found Bradley Dack, only for Luke McGee to come to the rescue with a smart stop.
Pompey tried to make an impact at the other end and Dion Donohue’s volley was kept out by David Raya, while the keeper then prevented Chaplin’s cross from reaching an unmarked Brett Pitman.
It was the visitors looking more dangerous, though, and when Charlie Mulgrew whipped a free-kick into the box, Paul Downing glanced just wide.
And the deadlock was broken on 21 minutes, as Mulgrew flicked on Richie Smallwood’s cross and Armstrong turned the ball home.
The Blues picked up the pace in the search for an equaliser, with Chaplin and Close both seeing efforts blocked in quick succession.
Ryan Nyambe then made a vital header when Nathan Thompson tried to float a pass to Close in the Rovers box.
Pitman had the hosts’ best chance on 32 minutes, as he wriggled into a shooting position, with Raya getting down to save his angled drive.
Pompey kept plugging away, but Gareth Evans ballooned over when Donohue picked him out in the area.
Pitman also lacked his usual composure by firing wide, while Lowe was then off target with a diving header.
But the Blues finished the half strongly and Raya got down to save when Evans met another dangerous Donohue delivery with a deft flick.
Anton Walkes also had a decent effort in stoppage-time and there were gasps as the ball curled agonisingly past the post.
Blackburn Rovers 1
The hosts had improved as the first half progressed and found themselves level within five minutes of the restart.
Donohue sent a cross in from the left and Walkes did well to hook it back into the centre, where CHAPLIN was waiting to head home from close range.
They might have had another soon after when Raya came tearing from his box, but failed to collect the ball.
Pitman did gather it and steadied himself on the left side of the area, although he was unable to curl his shot on target.
Raya had collided with team-mate Nyambe in that incident and the defender received warm applause as he was stretched off towards a waiting ambulance.
McGee denied Dack at the other end, but the action had started to lull following a breathless start to the second half.
But Pompey injected life back into proceedings when Donohue’s cross was not properly dealt with and Close’s follow-up was deflected narrowly wide.
There was a sense of urgency at both ends of the pitch as the clock ticked down into the final 15 minutes.
Close did well to get down the right and centre the ball, with it being headed behind before Lowe could take advantage on the back post.
A seemingly innocuous cross from Armstrong then crept narrowly wide, as did Mulgrew’s deep free-kick moments later.
Chaplin was cheered off the pitch when Jackett decided to replace him with Hawkins for the final few minutes.
But the mood soon soured, as Rovers restored their advantage. Darragh Lenihan’s cross ricocheted off Matt Clarke and fell kindly for Armstrong to lash in his second of the night.
Hopes were raised by the display of seven additional minutes, while Travis’ red card for a late challenge on Thompson provided more cause for optimism.
Pompey threw men forward in a desperate search for another equaliser, but Blackburn held on to secure the spoils.
Pompey (4-4-2): McGee; Walkes, Burgess, Clarke, Donohue; Evans, Thompson, Close, Lowe (Kennedy 90+2); Chaplin (Hawkins 85), Pitman (c)
Goals: Chaplin 50
Subs not used: Bass, Deslandes, May, Ronan, Naismith
Blackburn (4-2-3-1): Raya; Nyambe (Lenihan 56), Downing, Mulgrew (c), Williams; Bennett, Smallwood; Payne (Travis 56), Dack, Armstrong; Samuel (Graham 82)
Goals: Armstrong 21, 87
Sent off: Travis
Subs not used: Leutwiler, Bell, Evans, Conway
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 18,152 (884 away fans)
Conor Chaplin struck deep into stoppage-time as Pompey battled from behind to secure a dramatic victory at MK Dons.
Matt Clarke had already grabbed a late equaliser on his 100th appearance to cancel out Ike Ugbo’s opener.
Luke McGee also made several fine saves, while Brett Pitman and Oli Hawkins both went close as it seemed as though the Blues were heading for defeat.
But Clarke’s header lifted a large travelling army and substitute Chaplin sent them delirious at the death.
Kenny Jackett made two changes from the side that drew with Doncaster on home soil the previous week.
Both were enforced, with the injured Stephen Henderson and suspended Christian Burgess making way for McGee and skipper Pitman.
It meant that striker Hawkins was once again forced into the central defensive role, where he has featured on many occasions this term.
Burgess was present at Stadium MK, however, sat with team-mate Stuart O’Keefe among the 6,257 away supporters.
The first half was an open affair, with the contest quickly switching from one end to the other, although it was the visitors who had more of the ball in the early stages.
Connor Ronan’s curling effort drew a save from Lee Nicholls, while the keeper also punched clear Matty Kennedy’s cross under pressure from Pitman.
Peter Pawlett’s drive was pushed away by McGee at the other end, but the first clear opportunity fell to Kieran Agard on 12 minutes.
The striker was slipped through on goal by Ed Upson, but was unable to keep his composure and shot wide of the post.
Pompey then threatened themselves when Gareth Evans picked up a loose ball and hit a fierce effort that Nicholls was just about able to parry behind.
Dion Donohue was next to force the stopper into action with a low drilled attempt after cutting along the edge of the box.
But it was MK Dons who broke the deadlock on 21 minutes, even if Ugbo almost managed to miss a simple chance.
Josh Tymon did well down the left and centred for Agard, who saw his effort saved at point-blank range by McGee.
Ugbo was left with an empty goal to fire into, however, and his shot clipped the inside of the post before nestling in the net.
Pompey tried to hit back and Kennedy’s sighter flew wide before a better effort from Ben Close swerved inches over the bar.
A brilliant effort from Pitman almost drew them level, only for a back-pedalling Nicholls to tip over the striker’s lob.
But the Blues might have found themselves further behind at the break, as McGee first saved Callum Brittain’s shot and then kept out a thumping Scott Wootton header from the resulting corner.
MK Dons 1
Jackett made a double substitution at the start of the second half, with Kennedy and Ronan withdrawn for Jamal Lowe and Chaplin.
Pitman thought he should have won a penalty when he went to ground under pressure from Dean Lewington, but referee John Brooks was not interested.
Chaplin then cut the ball back for Evans, who hit his shot cleanly enough, but the ball flew straight at a grateful Nicholls.
But the Blues were again indebted to McGee for a couple more fine pieces of goalkeeping around the hour mark.
Firstly, he used his feet to deny Ugbo and then, from the resulting corner, somehow managed to athletically tip over Upson’s header.
Again the action switched back down the other end and Pitman went it alone, bundling his way into a shooting position, only for a well-placed Wootton to hack the ball from the line.
The ball then fell for Lowe inside the area, but it bounced up at an awkward angle and forced the winger to fire over.
Pompey were struggling to break down their stubborn hosts, although they came close to levelling when Hawkins headed Donohue’s corner against the post.
Close then did well to steal possession and although his pass was too heavy for Pitman, the skipper managed to win a corner.
And it was from that set-piece that the Blues levelled on 84 minutes, as Evans played the ball to Donohue and his cross was headed home by CLARKE.
The visitors then survived a scare at the other end, as Upson’s free-kick somehow evaded everyone and flashed just past the post.
But it was the Blues who grabbed a last-gasp winner when Donohue’s cross deflected into CHAPLIN’s path and the striker swept the ball into the net.
MK Dons (3-5-1-1): Nicholls; Williams, Wootton, Lewington (c); Brittain, Pawlett (McGrandles 58), Upson, Cisse (Ebanks-Landell 80), Tymon; Ugbo; Agard
Goals: Ugbo 21
Subs not used: Sietsma, Nesbitt, Rasulo, Muirhead, Thomas-Asante
Pompey (4-2-3-1): McGee; Walkes, Hawkins, Clarke, Donohue; Thompson, Close; Evans, Ronan (Chaplin 46), Kennedy (Lowe 46); Pitman (c)
Goals: Clarke 84, Chaplin 90+3
Booked: Clarke, Thompson
Subs not used: Bass, Deslandes, Widdrington, May, Naismith
Referee: John Brooks
Attendance: 14,762 (6,257 Pompey fans)
The New England Patriots where unable to repeat last years triumph and lost to The Philadelphia Eagles
A very exciting and close game though that I managed to stay awake for.
Philadelphia Eagles beat New England Patriots 41-33
Pompey twice battled from behind to secure a 2-2 draw with Doncaster in an eventful contest at Fratton Park.
They recovered from a disastrous start that saw James Coppinger score and Anton Walkes grabbed a deserved equaliser.
The hosts dominated from that point on, only for John Marquis to leave them trailing once more after the break.
But Brett Pitman came off the bench to level and the Blues saw out a nervy conclusion that saw Kal Naismith go in goal following an injury to Stephen Henderson, before Christian Burgess was sent off.
Kenny Jackett made four changes from the side narrowly beaten at home by Shrewsbury the previous week.
New signings Henderson and Walkes were both handed debuts, with there were also starts for Matty Kennedy and Connor Ronan.
That meant Luke McGee, Jamal Lowe and Naismith all dropped to the bench, while Adam May was serving a suspension.
But Henderson’s first job was to pick the ball out of his own net, as – for the second time this season against Doncaster – Pompey made a terrible start.
Walkes blocked Alfie Beestin’s path to goal, but Coppinger picked up the loose ball and managed to force the ball home.
It might have got even worse for the hosts, as they struggled to keep hold of the ball in the opening stages.
The evergreen Coppinger was proving a nuisance and one shot was dealt with by Henderson, while another was deflected just past the post.
Rovers did have the ball in the net again on 16 minutes when former Fratton loanee Marquis stooped to convert Coppinger’s cross, but their celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag.
Pompey suddenly found their feet, though, and proceeded to dominate the remainder of the first half.
Burgess was not quite able to take advantage when Ben Close’s free-kick was helped on, first by Matt Clarke and then Oli Hawkins.
But a leveller did arrive on 19 minutes and it was WALKES who was able to celebrate a goal on his Blues bow.
A corner was sent into the box by skipper Gareth Evans and that led to a scramble in the visitors’ box.
Clarke and Walkes both tried to stab home the loose ball, although it was the latter who got the vital touch before wheeling away to celebrate.
Pompey did not stop there, though, and a shot from Evans was deflected behind, while Tyler Garratt did well to beat Hawkins to Kennedy’s cross.
Ian Lawlor then made a stunning save to keep out Clarke’s header from point-blank range when the centre-back met Dion Donohue’s excellent corner.
There were plenty more dangerous deliveries into the Doncaster box – particularly from Kennedy – although the visitors were defending firm.
But there was late drama at the other end just before the break, as a late challenge from Donohue led to a melee.
Referee Graham Salisbury calmed things down, though, showing yellow cards to the initial perpetrator, as well as Burgess and Marquis.
Doncaster Rovers 1
It was still the hosts on top once the action restarted, although clear-cut opportunities were at a premium.
Hawkins met a low cross from Kennedy, only for a well-placed Andy Boyle to make a vital block in the Doncaster box.
Pompey almost took the lead just before the hour mark, though, as Ronan sent Close through on goal, only for Lawlor to tear from his line and make another fine save.
Jackett soon made his first change of the afternoon, as Hawkins was withdrawn for top scorer Pitman.
But the Blues then undid all their good work by leaving Marquis in acres of space to head home Coppinger’s corner and restore Rovers’ advantage.
The hosts tried to battle back, but some wayward crossing was undoing their progress into promising areas.
A double substitution was made to reinvigorate Pompey on 72 minutes, with Kennedy and Evans withdrawn for Naismith and Lowe.
Naismith almost levelled when he tried to sneak a long-range shot inside Lawlor’s near post, only for the keeper to get down and save.
But Pompey did find another equaliser from Donohue’s resulting corner, as PITMAN managed to bundle the ball over the line.
Delight turned to concern soon after, though, as Henderson went down off the ball and – clearly distraught – had to limp off.
Jackett had already made all three of his allowed changes, meaning Naismith had to don the gloves for the closing stages.
The challenge became even harder early in the seven minutes of stoppage-time, when Burgess handled and was shown a second booking to leave the Blues with nine men.
Naismith came to the rescue, though, making a key save with his feet to deny Ben Whiteman and ensure Pompey secured a point.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Henderson; Walkes, Burgess, Clarke, Donohue; Thompson, Close; Evans (c) (Lowe 72), Ronan, Kennedy (Naismith 72); Hawkins (Pitman 59)
Goals: Walkes 19, Pitman 81
Sent off: Burgess (two yellow cards)
Subs not used: McGee, Deslandes, Widdrington, Chaplin
Doncaster (4-1-2-1-2): Lawlor; Blair, Anderson, Boyle, Garratt (McCullough 59); Houghton; Whiteman, Rowe; Coppinger (c) (Kongolo 73); Beestin (Kiwomya 59), Marquis
Goals: Coppinger 4, Marquis 63
Booked: Marquis, Anderson
Subs not used: Marosi, Alcock, Mason, May
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 17,364 (366 away fans)