Transfer : Portsmouth – Ipswich Town
Marc McNulty and Adam Webster were on target as Pompey returned to winning ways against Cambridge.
It was not the most free-flowing of performances, but it was still the hosts who created most of the game’s best chances.
And – after the past two games yielded a solitary point – there was a sense of relief when McNulty opened the scoring just before the break.
United failed to cause Ryan Fulton many problems and it was left for Webster to secure all three points midway through the second half.
That was despite a few late nerves when Cambridge skipper Luke Berry pulled one back in the closing stages.
Paul Cook made four changes from the side that were beaten at Barnet during the week.
Conor Chaplin was handed his first start in more than four months, while Christian Burgess returned after serving a one-match ban.
Kal Naismith and a fit-again Danny Hollands featured in midfield, with Matt Clarke and Ben Close, as well as the injured duo of Adam McGurk and Michael Smith, making way.
The hosts made a bright start and Chaplin fired wide from a tight angle after both Kyle Bennett and Naismith had their paths to goal blocked.
Leon Legge then did well to cut the ball out after McNulty stole possession and tried to thread a pass through to Chaplin.
But the contest quickly descended into a scrappy affair, with a number of niggly challenges drawing a shrill whistle from referee Oliver Langford.
Jimmy Spencer was finally shown a yellow card after one foul too many, while Ben Davies quickly followed him into the book.
Cambridge then had their best chance of the half, with Ben Williamson’s low cross going just behind the onrushing Berry.
But it was the Blues who broke the deadlock on 41 minutes and, unsurprisingly, it came from a free-kick after McNulty had been upended.
Michael Doyle slipped the ball through to McNULTY, who brought it under control before rocketing a shot into the roof of the net.
Spencer was then slightly fortunate to remain on the pitch following a foul on Enda Stevens, with United boss Shaun Derry preparing a substitution before eventually deciding to wait until the break.
Cambridge United 0
As expected, Spencer did not return for the start of the second half , with the striker wisely making way for Ryan Donaldson.
But it was the Blues who were first to threaten after the restart, with Bennett dragging a shot narrowly wide.
The half took a while to spark into life, however, with neither side looking particularly creative going forward.
But Pompey began to pick up as time went on and Chaplin was not quite able to pick out McNulty with a low cross.
Hollands’ drive was then kept out by Cambridge keeper Will Norris following a neat cut-back by Stevens.
And the hosts did double their advantage just past the hour mark to relieve any tension around the ground
It was Webster who started and finished the move, bringing the ball out of defence before finding Bennett.
The winger was unfortunate not to score himself with a fierce strike that Norris expertly tipped onto the crossbar.
But WEBSTER was following up to hook the ball home and send the Fratton faithful wild with delight.
Cook was forced into his first change on 73 minutes, with Naismith picking up a knock and being replaced by Gareth Evans.
Cambridge did reduce the deficit late on when a free-kick was headed back by Mark Roberts for Berry to score.
But the Blues saw out five minutes of stoppage-time to secure the win and move back into the League Two play-off places.
Pompey (4-4-2): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Naismith (Evans 73), Hollands, Doyle (c), Bennett (Tollitt 90+2); Chaplin (Clarke 87), McNulty
Goals: McNulty 41, Webster 62
Booked: Davies, McNulty, Chaplin
Subs not used: Bass, Freeman, Haunstrup, Barton
Cambridge (4-1-4-1): Norris; Furlong, Legge (Roberts 85), Coulson, Haynes; O’Neill (Simpson 56); Williamson, Berry (c), Ledson, Dunk; Spencer (Donaldson 46)
Goals: Berry 90
Booked: Spencer, Berry, Legge
Subs not used: Beasant, Omozusi, Keane
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 15,425 (587 away fans)
Pompey were unable to break into the automatic promotion places after losing at Leyton Orient in a bruising Boxing Day clash.
They took an early lead through Connor Essam’s own-goal, but the tide turned when Adam Webster was sent off and Jay Simpson scored the resulting penalty.
Ollie Palmer then added two more for the hosts, who had skipper Mathieu Baudry dismissed in between.
Gareth Evans reduced the deficit to spark hopes of a comeback, but the Blues were unable to find a late leveller.
Paul Cook stuck with the same side that won at Northampton before Christmas.
Michael Doyle was fit enough to feature after injuring his ankle, while Gary Roberts returned from more than two months on the sidelines to take his place among the substitutes.
The hosts selected former Fratton loanees Alex Cisak and Cole Kpekawa in their line-up, with John Marquis on the bench.
Pompey made a storming start and Caolan Lavery’s persistence almost paid off in the opening seconds as he tried to chase down Cisak’s clearance.
But the Blues did break the deadlock on four minutes when Evans failed to get a decent connection on Kyle Bennett’s cross and the ball ricocheted off Essam and into the net.
They almost doubled their advantage soon after, but Cisak made a fine double save to first keep out Bennett’s fierce drive and then Lavery’s diving header.
Lavery was unable to make contact with the resulting corner and Webster headed wide, as the visitors continued to dominate.
But all their good work was undone midway through the first half when Webster was sent off.
The defender failed to control Danny Hollands’ heavy back-pass and then bundled over Jobi McAnuff inside the box.
Referee Graham Horwood immediately pointed to the spot and brandished a red card, while League Two top scorer Simpson stepped up to convert the penalty.
With no recognised defender on the bench, Adam Barton was brought on to partner Matt Clarke at the back, with Marc McNulty the man to make way.
The dismissal also impacted on Pompey’s ability to play their normal pressing, passing game and they were under the cosh for the rest of the half.
Brian Murphy prevented them from falling immediately behind when he dived to his left to palm away McAnuff’s strike.
Palmer then spun neatly and cut inside from the right before hitting a tame effort straight into the keeper’s arms.
And the Blues also survived late in the half when a Kpekawa free-kick led to the ball pinging around their area.
But they did fall behind deep into stoppage-time, with Palmer finding it far too easy to convert a hopeful cross from Kpekawa.
Leyton Orient 2
Pompey appeared destined for defeat at the break, but there was a spark of hope when Leyton Orient were also reduced to 10 men early in the second half.
Baudry did not react well to a challenge on him by Doyle, lashing out at the Blues skipper and then receiving his marching orders.
The visiting fans were not celebrating for too long, however, as from Sean Clohessy’s free-kick, Palmer arrived at the far post to head into the bottom corner.
Pompey were not too far away from reducing the deficit on 55 minutes, with Barton’s cross agonisingly out of reach for Hollands.
Evans then met Ben Davies’ corner and the ball was heading for the top corner until Cisak got across to pluck it from the air.
The hosts had an opportunity on 66 minutes when Simpson cut inside from the right, but his weak effort was comfortably claimed by Murphy.
And the Blues then went straight up the other end of the pitch to reduce their deficit.
Bennett was the architect, turning Jack Payne and then playing a magnificent pass through to EVANS, who calmly slotted the ball past Cisak.
It almost got even better moments later, as the visitors were denied three times in the space of a few seconds.
First Jean-Yves M’Voto did well to prevent Lavery from getting a shot away and then Enda Stevens flashed a dangerous pass across goal that just evaded Bennett.
Davies picked up the loose ball on the right and hit a powerful angled drive that Cisak managed to push clear.
Cisak was again involved on 72 minutes, doing enough to deny Lavery from close-range before Evans volleyed narrowly over.
The keeper then just about beat Clarke to Davies’ corner as Pompey kept knocking on the door in search of another goal.
Roberts and Conor Chaplin were thrown on for the closing stages as Cook made one last roll of the dice.
But it was the hosts who almost scored late on when Marquis latched onto a poor back-pass from Stevens.
The Orient substitute could only find the post with his first effort, however, while Stevens recovered to clear his follow-up attempt from the line.
Pompey’s left-back then sent in a low cross that was met by Evans, but Cisak made a fine save as the Londoners saw out seven minutes of stoppage-time to claim all three points.
Leyton Orient (4-4-2): Cisak; Baudry (c), M’Voto, Essam, Kpekawa; Clohessy, Pritchard, Payne, McAnuff (Turgott 88); Palmer (Marquis 82), Simpson (Shaw 72)
Goals: Simpson 23 (pen), Palmer 45+1, 52
Sent off: Baudry
Booked: Essam, Palmer, Pritchard, Shaw
Subs not used: Grainger, Dunne, Kashket, Moncur
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands (Roberts 87), Doyle (c); Evans, McNulty (Barton 24), Bennett (Chaplin 87); Lavery
Goals: Essam 4 (og), Evans 66
Sent off: Webster
Subs not used: Bass, Close, Tollitt, McGurk
Referee: Graham Horwood
Attendance: 5,848 (1,316 Pompey fans)
Caolan Lavery and Adam Webster were on target as Pompey fought from two goals down to snatch a point at Wycombe.
It looked like they would leave empty-handed when Michael Harriman and Garry Thompson netted within the space of three first half minutes.
But Lavery grabbed a lifeline just before the interval before Webster levelled with a thumping header after it.
Paul Cook made one change to the side that romped to a 6-0 victory over York during the week.
Adam McGurk came into the attacking three behind lone striker Lavery, with Gareth Evans dropping to the bench.
Jayden Stockley was also named among the substitutes having missed the last nine games with an ankle injury.
There was not much excitement to warm the crowd up in the opening stages, with chances at a premium.
Marc McNulty could only head a Ben Davies free-kick wide, while Danny Hollands was forced to divert a corner over his own crossbar at the other end.
The hosts tried to liven things up with a clever free-kick routine midway through the first half, but after Sam Wood cheekily flicked the ball up, Paul Hayes could only fire into the wall.
Wycombe were gifted the lead on 28 minutes, however, when Brian Murphy charged from his box and sent a clearance straight to Luke O’Nien.
The midfielder’s effort was blocked, but the ball fell to Harriman, who calmly finished from 30 yards with Pompey’s keeper yet to get back into position.
And things soon got even worse for the visitors as, less than three minutes later, Harriman got clear down the right and swung in a dangerous cross that Thompson fired home.
The Blues tried to hit back, with Lavery and Kyle Bennett both denied by some last-gasp defending from the Chairboys.
But it took a fine stop from Murphy to stop them falling further behind on 38 minutes, with the keeper spreading himself to deny Wood from point-blank range.
Pompey had been well below-par, although they finished the half with a flourish and Aaron Pierre diverted Enda Stevens’ low cross just past his own post.
And the visitors grabbed a lifeline in stoppage-time after McNulty beat the offside trap to latch onto Christian Burgess’ threaded pass and unselfishly squared for LAVERY to slot home.
Wycombe Wanderers 2
Cook made a switch at the start of the second half, with Hollands making way for Adam Barton in midfield.
Pompey soon had a chance when Davies delivered a free-kick into the area, but Wycombe were able to scramble clear and referee Mark Haywood ignored Webster’s pleas for a penalty.
WEBSTER was celebrating on 55 minutes, however, when he was left unmarked to convert Davies’ corner with a bullet header that was too powerful for Chairboys keeper Matt Ingram to keep out.
Hayes had his own chance from a set-piece moments later, but he could only divert the ball straight into Murphy’s arms.
The Blues then surged straight down the other end and Pierre made a decent block to keep out McGurk’s effort.
Cook made his second switch on 67 minutes, with Evans getting a chance to impress in place of McGurk.
He soon made an impact, but after ghosting in at the near post, was unable to divert a corner from Davies on target.
And Evans was in the thick of action again moments later, only to be denied by a vital Anthony Stewart block after Lavery had done well to hold the ball up.
Bennett was next go close when he cut along the edge of the box before firing in a shot that Ingram did well to beat away.
And Burgess thought he should have been awarded a penalty on 84 minutes after going to ground under Pierre’s challenge while trying to attack a corner.
Pierre then fouled Lavery right on the edge of the box and Davies’ free-kick was pushed clear by Ingram.
It was Pompey who were doing all the attacking as the game entered its closing stages, but they were unable to find a late winner.
Wycombe (4-4-2): Ingram; McCarthy, Stewart, Pierre, Jombati; Harriman (Kretzschmar 90+3), Bloomfield, O’Nien, Wood; Hayes (c) (Amadi-Holloway 81), Thompson
Goals: Harriman 28, Thompson 30
Booked: McCarthy, Pierre
Subs not used: Richardson, Rowe, Banton, Sellers, Ugwu
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands (Barton 46), Doyle (c); McGurk (Evans 67), McNulty, Bennett (Tollitt 89); Lavery
Goals: Lavery 45+2, Webster 55
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Chaplin, Stockley
Referee: Mark Haywood
Attendance: 5,816 (1,976 Pompey fans)