League 2 Play-Offs
McNulty and Roberts on target.
Pompey and Plymouth could not be separated in an absorbing first leg play-off contest at a packed Fratton Park.
Marc McNulty’s early strike got the Blues off to a dream opening, only for Jamille Matt’s brace to turn the game on its head.
Argyle’s forward escaped a red card following a tussle with Michael Doyle in between those two goals.
But the hosts grabbed an equaliser in the second half, courtesy of Gary Roberts’ confidently-taken spot-kick.
Paul Cook made seven changes from the side that narrowly lost to champions Northampton at the weekend.
One of them took everyone by surprise, with a goalkeeping injury crisis seeing Ryan Allsop signed on loan from Bournemouth and thrown straight into the team.
There were also returns for Christian Burgess and Enda Stevens at the back, Danny Hollands and skipper Doyle in midfield, and Kyle Bennett and McNulty in attack.
The game began at a frenetic pace and there was plenty of controversy to spice up the first half on the south coast.
But the Blues made an excellent start by breaking the deadlock after just three minutes.
Doyle stole possession from Curtis Nelson and the ball feel kindly for McNULTY to drive into the net.
The hosts set about trying to double their advantage, but Luke McCormick did well to claim a dangerous cross from Stevens.
Instead Plymouth found soon themselves level, with Gregg Wylde sending the ball into the mix and Matt beating Allsop to head home from close range.
The Argyle striker was arguably fortunate to stay on the pitch moments later, after appearing to headbutt Doyle following a scuffle between the pair.
Cook was livid on the sidelines and his reaction saw him sent to the stands by referee Oliver Langford, quickly followed by Plymouth first team coach Paul Wotton.
And Matt soon added salt to the wound by firing the visitors ahead, controlling Kelvin Mellor’s long throw and sending an acrobatic over-head effort looping into the net.
There were then half-chances at both ends as the game continued at a breathless pace, with Hollands firing wide before Graham Carey’s effort fizzed narrowly off target.
Pompey were pushing for a leveller and it took a fine challenge by Peter Hartley to dispossess Gareth Evans in the box as the winger prepared to shoot.
McNulty was next to go close, but his fierce effort flew narrowly wide following good link-up play between Burgess and Roberts.
Both sides certainly looked capable of adding to the scoring and some Pilgrims fans thought their side had when Carey’s free-kick hit the side netting.
Plymouth Argyle 2
Pompey went straight on the attack after the interval and Evans hit one effort over before Bennett saw his shot blocked.
And the hosts were level on 51 minutes after Langford pointed to the spot for a foul on McNulty by Hartley.
The Plymouth defender was shown a yellow card before ROBERTS stepped up to emphatically fire home the penalty.
McCormick then had to make sure he held Evans’ cross from the right, with Roberts waiting to pounce at the far post.
And the Argyle keeper also made a decent stop to deny McNulty following a quick Blues break, although an unmarked Bennett was screaming for the ball to his left.
The hosts made their first switch just past the hour mark and it was Bennett who was withdrawn for Kal Naismith.
He was soon involved in the action, but could not quite get on the end of Evans’ teasing cross from the right.
Pompey were dominating possession by this point and forcing their opponents to sit deeper, but the Pilgrims defence were holding firm.
McNulty was withdrawn on 81 minutes, with Adam McGurk given a chance to impress up front.
It was Ben Davies who had a chance to fire them in front soon after, however, with McCormick forced to save at his near post.
But, with the game ending 2-2, the outcome was still very much up in the air as the sides prepare to do battle once more at Home Park on Sunday.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Allsop; Davies, Burgess, Barton, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Bennett (Naismith 62); McNulty (McGurk 81)
Goals: McNulty 3, Roberts 51 (pen)
Booked: Hollands, Barton
Subs not used: Whatmough, Haunstrup, Close, Tollitt, Wilkinson
Plymouth (4-2-3-1): McCormick; Mellor, Nelson (c), Hartley, Sawyer; McHugh, Boateng (Purrington 80); Jervis, Carey, Wylde; Matt (Tanner 90+1)
Goals: Matt 9, 19
Booked: Carey, Hartley, Sawyer, Purrington
Subs not used: Dorel, Forster, Harvey, Rooney, Reid
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 17,622 (1,902 away fans)
Pompey roared back into form and ensured it was a very Good Friday with a convincing victory over Notts County at Fratton Park.
Kyle Bennett struck either side of the interval, with a couple of goals that were extremely easy on the eye.
Christian Burgess then opened his account for the club before Marc McNulty came off the bench to add an extra gloss to the scoreline.
Paul Cook made four changes from the side that drew at Mansfield the previous week.
Paul Jones was recalled from his Crawley loan to replace Ryan Fulton – who had been called up to the Scotland under-21 side – between the sticks.
There were also starts for Gary Roberts, Adam McGurk and Matt Clarke, with McNulty, Kal Naismith and Adam Webster dropping to the bench.
Before kick-off there was a minute’s silence in memory of former Pompey left-back Jack Mansell – who passed away last week – and the victims of the attacks in Brussels.
When the game got underway, the hosts made a bright start to match the fine conditions on the south coast.
And Michael Bull earned the ire of the Fratton faithful for not awarding their side a penalty after just a three minutes.
It looked a clear foul from Haydn Hollis on Ben Davies as the right-back charged into the box, but the referee was not convinced.
However, the first half was ultimately a scrappy affair, with plenty of fouls interrupting the flow of the game.
Stanley Aborah collected the first booking for a late challenge on Michael Smith, not that it stopped the midfielder from getting involved in a few more dubious challenges.
There were not too many shots to trouble either of the goalkeepers, with Curtis Thompson seeing his dangerous run eventually halted before McGurk sent a header over the bar.
It was Roberts who had the first decent chance from the edge of the box on 34 minutes, but his effort flew comfortably into the arms of Scott Loach.
Pompey did break the deadlock just before the break, however, thanks to an impressive solo goal from BENNETT.
The winger collected Enda Stevens’ pass down the left and beat Elliott Hewitt with ease before cutting inside and firing past Loach.
Notts County 0
The hosts probably should have doubled their advantage just after the restart, but McGurk somehow failed to connect with Davies’ free-kick from wide on the right.
But their second goal did arrive on 49 minutes – and it was a joy to behold.
Roberts displayed a moment of class to send BENNETT clear through and he calmly slotted the ball past Loach and into the net.
And Roberts then tried to add an audacious third with a cute lob from wide on the right that drifted narrowly over.
But the visitors were almost gifted a way back into the game on the hour mark when Jones dropped Curtis Thompson’s cross, only to pounce on the ball before Jon Stead could poke it home.
Pompey were soon back on the attack, though, and it took a brave block from former England international Alan Smith to deny his namesake Michael.
Cook made his first switch on 67 minutes, with the tiring McGurk making way for Naismith out wide.
With a comfortable lead, it was a more patient display from the hosts, but they still looked the more dangerous side.
And the home fans did have a third goal to cheer on 81 minutes when BURGESS converted Enda Stevens’ cross from close range to open his Blues account.
That was the cue to bring on Conor Chaplin and McNulty for the impressive duo of Smith and Roberts.
And it was McNULTY who wrapped up a memorable victory in stoppage-time when he headed Davies’ free-kick into the top corner.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (Naismith 67), Roberts (McNulty 84), Bennett; Smith (Chaplin 84)
Goals: Bennett 44, 49, Burgess 81, McNulty 90+1
Subs not used: Bass, Webster, Close, Evans
Notts County (3-5-2): Loach; Boyce (Atkinson 58), Smith (Campbell 75), Hollis; Hewitt, Thompson, Aborah (Burke 58), Noble, Milsom; McLeod, Stead (c)
Booked: Aborah, Milsom, Thompson, Smith, McLeod
Subs not used: Pilkington, Sharpe, Edwards, Murray
Referee: Michael Bull
Attendance: 16,670 (485 away fans)
Tafazolli own-goal secures Blues a point.
Marc McNulty missed a penalty as Pompey fought from behind to claim a point at Mansfield.
It looked bleak for the Blues when, within the space of a few minutes, McNulty saw his spot-kick saved and Matt Green slotted the hosts ahead.
But Ryan Tafazolli’s own-goal levelled the contest before the interval and neither side was able to take any of their second half chances.
Paul Cook made two changes from the side beaten at home by Newport the previous week.
One of them was enforced, with Michael Smith replacing the suspended Gary Roberts, while Gareth Evans dropped to the bench to make way for Kal Naismith.
There was not an abundance of chances in the early stages, although the hosts survived a defensive mix-up early on, while Mitchell Rose was unable to beat Ryan Fulton with an angled drive.
Pompey’s keeper then had to race from his area to clear after a blocked Christian Burgess shot turned into a quick Stags attack.
Set-pieces were causing the most problems for both sides, with Mansfield delivering some dangerous free-kicks and the Blues threatening from corners.
But it was penalty that gave the visitors a golden opportunity to break the deadlock on 20 minutes.
McNulty was brought down in the box by former Pompey loanee Daniel Alfei, but his spot-kick was brilliantly saved by Scott Shearer low to the keeper’s left.
And the Stags soon made him pay for his profligacy by taking the lead themselves, as Emmanuel Dieseruvwe teed-up Green for a cool finish.
Referee Carl Boyeson upset the mood of the home fans, however, by issuing a flurry of yellow cards, not that Dieseruvwe, Rose or Green could have much to complain about.
Pompey, meanwhile, were trying to find a leveller, but despite some neat passing forward, they were doing little to trouble Shearer.
Instead, the keeper was finally beaten by one of his team-mates just before the break, with TAFAZOLLI inadvertently turning a Ben Davies corner into his own net.
Mansfield Town 1
The second half was slow to get going, although it was the Blues were looking the more likely to score again.
But they were limited to a couple of scuffed efforts from Enda Stevens and Smith that did little to trouble Shearer.
Kyle Bennett went closer on 65 minutes when he met Davies’ corner with a volley that was heading for the net before it was deflected wide.
The visitors had a chance of their own when Stevens was booked for a foul on Dieseruvwe, but the resulting free-kick was confidently plucked from the air by Fulton.
Cook soon made his first substitution, with Ben Tollitt replacing Bennett wide on the left to add some youthful exuberance to Pompey’s attack.
And the Blues boss made another switch to his front line moments later, with McNulty making way for Adam McGurk.
The hosts had been growing in confidence as the half progressed and almost retook the lead on 62 minutes.
Fulton had to get down to his right to push clear Rose’s skidding, long-range effort and then denied Green from the resulting corner.
His counterpart Shearer had looked assured in the Stags goal, but almost made a hash of Michael Doyle’s opportunistic strike from distance on 77 minutes.
There was then a break in play when one of the linesmen appeared to injure his arm and had to be replaced – not that he received much sympathy from the stands.
Conor Chaplin was introduced in place of Naismith for the final five minutes, as Pompey went in search of a winner.
But, despite the fourth official announcing six minutes of stoppage-time, neither side was able to snatch victory.
Mansfield (4-4-2): Shearer; Alfei, Pearce, Tafazolli, Benning; Rose (Daniel 86), Collins (c), Clements, Kavanagh (Blair 64); Green (Thomas 83), Dieseruvwe
Goals: Green 26
Booked: Dieseruvwe, Rose, Green
Subs not used: Jensen, Baxendale, Chapman, Beardsley
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Naismith (Chaplin 85), McNulty (McGurk 70), Bennett (Tollitt 67); Smith
Goals: Tafazolli 43 (og)
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Evans
Referee: Carl Boyeson
Attendance: 3,980 (1,192 Pompey fans)
Marc McNulty and Kal Naismith were on target as Pompey returned to winning ways at Stevenage.
Gary Roberts teed-up McNulty to open the scoring midway through the first half and send the large travelling support wild with delight.
And Naismith then came off the bench to double their advantage and secure a maximum haul of points at the Lamex Stadium.
Paul Cook made two changes from the side that drew at Exeter earlier in the week.
A fit-again Roberts was thrown straight into the starting line-up following a hamstring injury, while Gareth Evans also returned.
Conor Chaplin and Naismith both dropped to the bench, where they were joined by Michael Smith, who had recovered from a calf problem.
Pompey started the game with plenty of attacking impetus and Evans was inches away from meeting an excellent Ben Davies delivery after just three minutes.
Roberts was then unable to force the ball home after Stevenage stopper Jamie Jones had flapped at another cross from the marauding right-back.
And Roberts had another chance soon after, but his long-range effort was comfortably kept out by Jones.
The Blues were dominating the opening exchanges, but Boro came close to forging ahead on 19 minutes after winning a series of corners.
The last of them fell to Michael Tonge inside the box, with the midfielder hooking the ball over his head, but also over the crossbar.
Pompey were soon back down the other end of the pitch and period of extended pressure ended with Evans having an effort blocked.
But they did break the deadlock on 22 minutes after Roberts did well to steal possession in the middle of the pitch.
He slid a precise pass through to McNULTY, who latched onto the ball and confidently slotted home to take his individual tally into double figures.
The game lost some of its sparkle after that, becoming a scrappy affair that was punctuated by plenty of free-kicks.
Tom Conlon glanced a header narrowly wide for the hosts, while Lee Cox was unable to find the target from the edge of the box.
But the Blues ended the half on a high and Evans sent a low drive rolling inches past the post before Roberts headed wide from an Enda Stevens cross.
Pompey survived a scare early in the second half after Christian Burgess was penalised for a foul on Conlon just outside the box.
The Stevenage midfielder picked himself up to take the free-kick and saw his curling effort tipped over by Fulton.
That aside, however, it had been fairly uneventful since the restart, with little happening to excite a flat crowd.
Roberts brought the game back to life on 58 minutes, however, when he dispossessed Ronnie Henry and surged forward.
But the angles were against the midfielder and his first effort was pushed clear by Jones, while the second flew into the side netting.
Michael Doyle was then left in space 25 yards out and Jones had to push his speculative shot over the bar.
Pompey soon received a bit of good fortune at the other end of the pitch when Byron Harrison inadvertently got in the way of Tom Pett’s goal-bound effort.
Both sides were now looking capable of adding to the scoring and Luke Wilkinson had to hack clear a low Evans shot, with McNulty waiting to pounce at the far post.
Cook made a double switch on 71 minutes as McNulty and Roberts made way for Smith and Naismith.
Stevenage were trying to push men forward in search of an equaliser, but wasted a good opportunity when Harrison and Connor Ogilvie got in each other’s way.
And Pompey made them pay for their profligacy by doubling their advantage on 82 minutes.
Kyle Bennett did well to feed a pass through to NAISMITH, who raced onto it and slammed home to open his account for the club.
There were a few nervous groans from the away end when the fourth official signalled six minutes of stoppage-time.
But – as the heavens opened in Hertfordshire – the Blues comfortably saw out the closing stages to claim all three points.
Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Jones; Henry (c), Wilkinson, Franks, Ogilvie; Cox (Kennedy 60), Conlon; Pett (Parrett 80), Tonge, Hedges (Marriott 72); Harrison
Subs not used: Day, Wells, Johnson, Gorman
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (Naismith 71), Bennett (Freeman 85); McNulty (Smith 71)
Goals: McNulty 22, Naismith 82
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Chaplin
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Attendance: 4,092 (1,390 Pompey fans)
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 returned to form in stunning style as they romped to victory over promotion rivals Bristol Rovers.
They had already carved out a host of opportunities when Gareth Evans broke the deadlock midway through the first half.
Michael Smith then opened his Blues account by converting a cross from the excellent Ben Davies just before the interval.
And Marc McNulty came off the bench to add a third in the second half for the rampant hosts.
The margin of victory could – and perhaps should – have been greater, but a combination of wasteful finishing and superb goalkeeping denied them even more goals.
And a fine free-kick from Lee Brown late on for the visitors proved nothing more than a consolation.
Paul Cook made three changes from the side beaten by Leyton Orient the previous week.
Evans replaced McNulty, as Pompey reverted to a more familiar 4-2-3-1 system, with Smith leading the line.
There were also a couple of switches in the defence, as Kieron Freeman and Matt Clarke made way for Davies and Adam Webster.
The first half was an entertaining, end-to-end affair, although it was the hosts who carved out the better chances.
Pirates keeper Steve Mildenhall made a stunning save in the opening seconds, somehow managing to claw away Christian Burgess’ header.
That came from a Davies corner and the right-back delivered another cross moments later that was nervously dealt with by the visitors’ defence.
The Blues certainly looked hungry and one flowing passing move involved Smith, Kyle Bennett and Gary Roberts, but the latter’s cut-back was intercepted.
Mildenhall was then Rovers’ saviour once more, this time doing well to deny Bennett at his near post.
But the keeper could do nothing to prevent Pompey from taking a deserved lead on 19 minutes.
Smith played a superb cross-field pass to Davies and his ball into the box was deftly flicked home by EVANS.
Rory Gaffney came close to levelling when he rattled the crossbar at the other end, although it would have been a controversial goal, as Roberts was lying injured on the turf.
Rovers had certainly grown into the game and it took a fine challenge by Webster to halt Daniel Leadbitter’s dangerous run.
It was still Pompey looking most dangerous, however, and Smith could not quite sneak a shot past Mildenhall after collecting Webster’s raking pass.
Evans and Roberts should both have done better late in the half, with the duo failing to find the target from close range.
But any feelings of frustration were lifted when the hosts did double their advantage in the third minute of stoppage-time.
It was Davies who provided the assist once again, collecting the loose ball after his corner had been blocked and picking out SMITH to head home his first Blues goal.
Bristol Rovers 0
Evans had an early attempt once the second half got underway and Mildenhall had to tip the ball over the bar.
He then tried a more acrobatic effort after connecting with Bennett’s cross, but this time it flew wide.
The visitors were looking nervous and Tom Lockyer had to hack clear after Mildenhall and Tom Parkes made a mess of dealing with Davies’ low cross on 50 minutes.
And Smith really should have added to his goalscoring account soon after, somehow sliding wide from a few yards out when Roberts’ pass found him unmarked in the box.
The same duo then combined again, but this time Mildenhall came tearing off his line to deny Smith.
Cook made his first change on 69 minutes and it was the tiring Smith who made way for McNulty up front.
Adam McGurk then came on for the impressive Roberts as the game began to drift towards a conclusion.
But it exploded back into life on 77 minutes when McNULTY latched onto Bennett’s threaded pass and slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
It almost got worse for the ailing Pirates, only for Mildenhall to once again make a stunning save to deny Evans from point-blank range.
McGurk almost got in act as well, but his curling effort was diverted over the bar by the head of Brown.
Instead it was Rovers who grabbed a late consolation when Brown hammered home a ferocious free-kick from the edge of the box.
But that failed to dampen the spirits of the Fratton faithful, who saw their side return to the top seven on a comfortable afternoon.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Close, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (McGurk 75), Bennett (Chaplin 86); Smith (McNulty 69)
Goals: Evans 19, Smith 45+3, McNulty 77
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Tollitt
Bristol Rovers (4-3-3): Mildenhall; Leadbitter, Lockyer, Parkes, Brown; Sinclair, Mansell (c) (Montano 55), Lawrence (Lines 77); Bodin, Gaffney, Easter (Taylor 55)
Goals: Brown 90+1
Booked: Easter, Brown, Montano, Lockyer
Subs not used: Puddy, McChrystal, Clarke, Fallon
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Attendance: 17,808 (2,863 away fans)
FA Cup 3 (Replay)
-Pompey set up a fourth round clash with Premier League side Bournemouth in the Emirates FA Cup after beating Ipswich at Fratton Park.
They dominated their higher-ranked opponents from the start and Gary Roberts broke the deadlock from the penalty spot.
Marc McNulty doubled the advantage before the break and arguably should have finished the tie with a hat-trick.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles reduced the deficit with a fine second half strike, although Piotr Malarczyk’s red card dented the Tractor Boys’ hopes of finding an equaliser.
Paul Cook made three changes from the side that drew 2-2 at Portman Road 10 days earlier.
Christian Burgess returned from an ankle injury to take his place in defence, meaning that Adam Barton switched to a more familiar midfield role.
There were also starts for skipper Michael Doyle and Gareth Evans, with Adam McGurk and Ben Close dropping to the bench.
Former Pompey forward Luke Varney once again led the line for Mick McCarthy’s Championship visitors.
The hosts soon took control of the tie and Kyle Bennett had an early opportunity, but could not force the ball home from a tight angle.
There was a rare opportunity at the other end on four minutes when Doyle’s header was intercepted by Brett Pitman, who sent a shot looping onto the roof of the net.
But the Blues were quickly back on the attack and Roberts hit a free-kick into the wall after Malarczyk had been booked for a foul on McNulty.
Josh Emmanuel then did well to get ahead of Evans and stop the winger from converting a dangerous cross from Ben Davies.
It was Evans who started a fine attacking move for Pompey on 30 minutes when he stole possession in the centre of the pitch.
He fed Barton, who in turn found McNulty, but Bartosz Bialkowski raced off his line to deny the striker.
The home support did not have to wait much longer to celebrate an opening goal, however.
Referee Andy Woolmer pointed to the spot when Malarczyk brought down Roberts in the box, although he opted not to show the Polish defender a second yellow card.
ROBERTS picked himself up to take the penalty and although Bialkowski got a hand to it, the keeper could not prevent the ball spinning into the net.
And the Fratton faithful were in dreamland a few minutes later, when the dominant Blues doubled their advantage.
Evans stood up a fine cross from wide on the right and McNULTY rose to head the ball home at the far post.
Ipswich Town 0
It was probably to be expected that the visitors would come out with renewed vigour after the interval.
But instead Pompey continued to play with confidence and they should have gone further ahead on 50 minutes.
Evans sent McNulty through on goal, but Bialkowski again came to Ipswich’s rescue with a fine save, while the loose ball was hooked over the line.
The Blues kept pushing forward and had another opportunity when Bennett was brought down by Josh Emmanuel just outside the box.
Roberts laid the ball off for the hovering Doyle, who hit a ferocious effort that fizzed narrowly past the post.
Pompey were also looking composed at the other end of the pitch and when Tommy Oar delivered a dangerous cross, Adam Webster calmly chested it down for Brian Murphy to collect.
But, out of nowhere, the Tractor Boys suddenly found themselves back in the tie on the hour mark.
It was a stunning 20-yard strike from on-loan Arsenal winger Maitland-Niles that flew into the top corner leaving Murphy with no chance.
Pompey immediately tried to restore their two-goal lead and Bennett was inches away from connecting with McNulty’s ball.
The chances were starting to fade as the half progressed, although Ipswich had an opening when Varney brought down a long goal-kick, only for Pitman to blaze over.
Their hopes of forcing extra-time received a blow on 77 minutes when Malarczyk brought down Roberts and was sent off for a second bookable offence.
And Pompey comfortably saw out the closing stages to book a fourth round date with the Cherries at the end of the month.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Burgess (Close 85), Webster, Stevens; Barton, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (Chaplin 82), Bennett; McNulty
Goals: Roberts 32 (pen), McNulty 37
Subs not used: Bass, May, Tollitt, Naismith, McGurk
Ipswich (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Emmanuel, Malarczyk, Digby, Kenlock; Maitland-Niles (Robinson 89), Hyam (c), Tabb (Coke 71), Oar; Varney (Toure 76), Pitman
Goals: Maitland-Niles 60
Sent off: Malarczyk (two yellow cards)
Subs not used: Gerken, Hammond, McDonnell, McLoughlin
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Attendance: 15,179 (796 away fans)
Pompey got 2016 off to an excellent start with a convincing victory over Crawley at Fratton Park.
A couple of loanees ensured they had a two-goal advantage at the break, with Matt Clarke heading the opener before Marc McNulty doubled the advantage.
The Blues dominated for most of the afternoon and got a deserved third when Gary Roberts found the target following excellent work from fellow substitute Ben Tollitt.
Paul Cook made one change from the side that drew with Luton five days earlier.
Adam Webster returned from suspension to take his place in the centre of defence, with Adam Barton dropping to the bench.
Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause in memory of former Pompey keeper Pavel Srnicek, who sadly passed away before Christmas at the age of just 47.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the opposition line-up, with Darryl Flahavan and Sonny Bradley both starting for the Reds.
The hosts made a bright start and Caolan Lavery could not quite guide Ben Davies’ cross on target with a diving header.
Enda Stevens then delivered a dangerous low centre from the left that Bradley was forced to clear behind.
And the Blues broke the deadlock from the resulting corner, with CLARKE rising highest in the box to guide home Davies’ cross on 13 minutes.
McNulty tried to double the advantage moments later, but sent an angled effort whizzing past the post.
Pompey were totally on top and Kyle Bennett saw his strike blocked after meeting Lavery’s cut-back, while Danny Hollands blazed the loose ball over.
Clarke then met another corner from Davies, although this time his radar was off and the ball flew wide.
Lavery thought he should have been awarded a penalty midway through the first half after tangling with Lewis Young, but referee Dean Whitestone was not quite so convinced.
Stevens was providing a real threat down the left and twice saw low crosses somehow evade his team-mates.
But it proved to be third time lucky on 26 minutes when the left-back picked out McNULTY, who took a touch before sliding the ball past Flahavan.
Crawley were struggling to keep the Blues at bay and it took brave blocks from Young and Bradley to keep out goal-bound efforts from McNulty and Bennett respectively.
The visitors finally carved out an opening on 39 minutes, but after beating Clarke, Roarie Deacon hit his shot straight at Brian Murphy.
Bennett then made a vital challenge to dispossess Luke Rooney on the edge of the box, while Simon Walton hit a long-range free-kick safely into Murphy’s arms.
But most of the action was still happening at the other end of the pitch and Flahavan did well to keep out a strike from Bennett that took a heavy deflection off Jon Ashton.
Then, in stoppage-time, an unmarked Gareth Evans somehow failed to connect with Davies’ cross from just a few yards out.
Crawley Town 0
Pompey picked up where they left off at the start of the second half and Stevens drilled a low shot narrowly wide.
Bennett was next to go close, cutting inside and sending a fierce effort fizzing inches over from the edge of the box.
But the visitors came close to reducing the deficit just past the hour mark, when Davies conceded a free-kick that Gwion Edwards curled against the crossbar.
Crawley were then thankful to Young, who prevented them from falling further behind when he cleared Lavery’s bullet header off the line.
Cook made a double substitution on 67 minutes, with McNulty and Evans making way for Roberts and Tollitt.
Lavery then had a chance to extend the hosts’ advantage when he met a cross from Tollitt, only to send his header sneaking past the far post.
Pompey were not having much to deal with at the other end, although Matt Harrold should at least have found the target when he collected Young’s pass.
And the hosts wrapped up a comfortable victory on 83 minutes after their two substitutes combined to devastating effect.
Tollitt picked the ball up from a Crawley corner and surged almost the full length of the pitch before teeing-up ROBERTS for a cool finish.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans (Tollitt 67), McNulty (Roberts 67), Bennett; Lavery (Chaplin 85)
Goals: Clarke 13, McNulty 26, Roberts 83
Subs not used: Bass, Barton, Atangana, McGurk
Crawley (4-1-4-1): Flahavan; Young, Yorwerth (Ashton 23), Bradley (c), Hancox; Walton; Deacon, Rooney (Tomlin 77), Smith (Emmanuel 46), Edwards; Harrold
Subs not used: Preston, Bawling, Jenkins, Fenelon
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 16,606 (567 away fans)
Pompey gave the Fratton faithful a perfect early Christmas present with a comfortable victory over Hartlepool.
After a slow start, the hosts took the lead through Caolan Lavery’s impressive finish and an Adam Jackson own-goal soon lifted the home support further.
Gareth Evans then slotted in another after the interval and Marc McNulty added a fourth late on to stretch the Blues’ unbeaten run to seven matches.
Paul Cook made two changes from the side that progressed to the third round of the FA Cup by beating Accrington the previous week.
Lavery – who had been ineligible to feature against Stanley – replaced Adam McGurk, while Matt Clarke made way for Christian Burgess.
Former Pompey keeper Trevor Carson received a warm round of applause when he took up position in the Fratton End goal for Hartlepool.
The game was slow to get going, with the strong winds making passing football difficult for both sides.
Ben Davies swung in an early corner that none of his team-mates were able to make a connection with.
Then, after Adam Webster was dispossessed in the centre, Brian Murphy had to get down to hold Rakish Bingham’s shot.
And Bingham soon took advantage of heavy touch from Christian Burgess, but was unable to find the target.
There were nothing more than half-chances to warm up the crowd, with McNulty drawing a comfortable save from Carson and Davies fizzing a free-kick past the post.
Kyle Bennett livened things up on 32 minutes, however, with a fierce 20-yard effort that flew narrowly wide.
And the Fratton faithful were buoyant moments later, when LAVERY broke the deadlock with a fine strike from the edge of the box that flew into the top corner.
The visitors then gifted Pompey a second goal on 37 minutes, as Jackson was only able to divert Davies’ low cross into his own net.
Matthew Bates almost copied his central defensive partner and would have breathed a sigh of relief when his mis-cued header flew safely into Carson’s arms.
Murphy had enjoyed a quiet afternoon at the other end, but was called into action just before the break with a diving save to keep out Scott Fenwick’s sweetly-struck volley.
Hartlepool United 0
Evans should have extended the hosts’ advantage early in the second half, but fired wide after McNulty had embarked on a mazy run to tee him up.
They received a let-off at the other end, though, when Enda Stevens conceded a free-kick that Jake Carroll curled narrowly wide.
A corner then led to an almighty scramble in the Blues box before Evans eventually got the ball to safety.
And EVANS soon made up for his earlier miss by scoring Pompey’s third goal just past the hour mark.
Stevens did well down the left and fed McNulty, who showed quick feet to beat a couple of challenges and get a shot away.
His effort was well saved at point-blank range by Carson, but Evans popped up to confidently tuck away the loose ball.
Cook made his first switch on 75 minutes, with Bennett making way to allow Ben Tollitt a run-out, while McGurk came on for Lavery soon after.
It took a fine last-gasp challenge in the box from Stevens to prevent Nicky Featherstone from reducing the deficit.
Pools substitute Mikael Mandron was then booked for a late challenge on Christian Burgess, which saw the defender limp off and be replaced by Clarke.
The closing stages passed by without much incident, but McNULTY added a fourth goal at the death, calmly slotting home after being sent through by Stevens.
It meant there was plenty of cheer when the final whistle was blown, with the hosts delivering a festive feast.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Burgess (Clarke 85), Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, McNulty, Bennett (Tollitt 75); Lavery (McGurk 80)
Goals: Lavery 33, Jackson 37 (og), Evans 61, McNulty 90
Subs not used: Bass, Haunstrup, Close, Chaplin
Hartlepool (4-3-2-1): Carson; Duckworth, Bates, Jackson, Carroll; Gray, Featherstone, Magnay (c) (Walker 75); Oates, Fenwick (Mandron 75); Bingham
Booked: Bingham, Mandron
Subs not used: Bartlett, Harrison, Woods, Richards, Smith
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Attendance: 15,610 (145 away fans)
Pompey scored six second half goals as the Fratton dam finally burst on a magical night on the south coast.
York held firm for the first 45 minutes, but Jonathan Greening’s red card just before the break was a huge blow.
And the Blues made the most of their extra man, with Ben Davies getting the ball rolling just after the restart.
Marc McNulty then endeared himself to the home fans with a hat-trick to put the result beyond doubt.
But the hosts were not done there and substitutes Conor Chaplin and Ben Tollitt added a further gloss to the already impressive scoreline.
Paul Cook made one change from the side that drew with Carlisle at the weekend.
McNulty was rewarded for his goal at Brunton Park with a place in the starting line-up, as Adam McGurk dropped to the bench.
Pompey showed plenty of attacking purpose straight from kick-off and Gareth Evans’ low cross was just behind the onrushing Caolan Lavery.
The visitors had an opportunity to break the deadlock on eight minutes, but Vadaine Oliver could not make a clean connection with Greening’s quickly-taken free-kick.
It was the Blues causing more trouble, however, and Kyle Bennett had a shot blocked before Christian Burgess saw his header deflected wide.
Lavery then showed great skill to control Bennett’s flick and lift the ball over a defender, but at full-stretch he could only poke wide.
Davies was, as ever, providing plenty of dangerous crosses and one of them was glanced narrowly past the post by McNulty on 14 minutes.
Pompey kept pouring forward and Michael Doyle sent a volley over the crossbar after Minstermen keeper Scott Flinders had failed to hold a corner.
McNulty then had cries for a penalty turned down by referee Iain Williamson after he went down under Eddie Nolan’s challenge.
Flinders was soon called into action once more, keeping out Evans’ angled drive after the winger had latched onto Lavery’s threaded pass.
When York did manage to get forward, the hosts were quick to catch them on the break and one such move ended with Lavery firing wide.
The Blues kept knocking on the door and Bennett was next to go close with a long-range snap-shot that was agonisingly off target.
But the big talking point came right at the end of the half when the visitors were reduced to 10 men.
Greening clattered into Doyle extremely late and appeared to catch Pompey’s skipper with his elbow.
The challenge angered the home side and Williamson quickly put his hand in his pocket to pull out a red card.
York City 0
Pompey were soon back on the attack once the second half started and it took a fantastic save to stop them taking the lead within a minute.
Lavery met Davies’ cross from the right and his header appeared destined for the net until Flinders stuck out a hand to somehow tip the ball over.
But the Fratton faithful did not have to wait long to see their side open the scoring, as a cross from DAVIES somehow evaded everyone on its way into the net.
Doyle’s shot was then well held low down by Flinders as the Blues tried to make the most of their numerical advantage.
And they did extend the lead on 52 minutes when Doyle sent Evans’ low cross back into the box and McNULTY calmly diverted it home.
The rampant Blues soon added a third goal, as McNULTY doubled his tally for the evening by converting Bennett’s cut-back.
Pompey kept pouring forward in search of even more goals and Flinders just about managed to prevent Evans from getting in on the act on 63 minutes.
There was not too long to wait for the fourth to arrive, however, and it was McNULTY who got it, latching onto Doyle’s pass and coolly sliding home to complete his hat-trick.
He immediately left the pitch to a standing ovation, with Davies also departing, as Chaplin and Rommy Boco were invited to the party.
Chaplin immediately looked a threat and sent a free-kick dipping narrowly over before weaving his way into space and seeing a shot blocked by George Swan.
But it was fellow substitute TOLLITT who grabbed the fifth on 80 minutes, surging into the box to convert a fine low cross from Enda Stevens.
CHAPLIN did get in on the act moments later, though, following up to score after Flinders had failed to hold Evans’ effort.
“We want seven,” was the cry from the stands and although the Blues could not oblige, the home fans still left the ground with huge smiles on their faces.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies (Boco 73), Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, McNulty (Chaplin 73), Bennett (Tollitt 76); Lavery
Goals: Davies 49, McNulty 52, 60, 71, Tollitt 80, Chaplin 84
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, McGurk
York (4-2-3-1): Flinders; Nolan, Swan, Boyle, Ilesanmi; Greening, Berrett (c); Sinclair (Godfrey 56), Morris, Straker; Oliver (Hyde 75)
Sent off: Greening
Subs not used: Ingham, Hare, Tutonda, Turner
Referee: Iain Williamson
Attendance: 13,616 (141 away fans)
Pompey were cruelly denied a deserved victory at Carlisle after conceding in the last minute of stoppage-time.
It looked like the points were heading back down to the south coast when Caolan Lavery and Marc McNulty found the target in quick succession after the break.
That turned the contest on its head after Danny Grainger had netted from the spot on the stroke of half-time.
But the United skipper ensured there would be a share of the spoils after scoring a fine strike right at the death.
Paul Cook made one change from the side that drew at home to AFC Wimbledon the previous week.
Kyle Bennett returned to the starting line-up and took up position wide on the left, with McNulty dropping to the bench.
Pompey – backed by almost 1,000 hardy travelling fans – immediately set about trying to find an early goal and it almost arrived after five minutes.
Lavery met Ben Davies’ cross from wide on the right, but his header was parried clear by Carlisle keeper Mark Gillespie.
Webster then tried a shot from the resulting corner and his effort bounced off the turf and was cleared from the line by Grainger.
The Blues were totally dominant and after Gillespie got a hand to Davies’ cross, the keeper recovered to twice prevent Enda Stevens from converting the loose ball.
And when Gareth Evans’ follow-up hit a body in the area, the visitors’ cries for a penalty were dismissed by referee Scott Duncan.
Webster surged forward and tried his luck from long-range on 14 minutes, but his shot flew over the bar.
And there were further half-chances for Christian Burgess and Michael Doyle as the Blues continued to apply plenty of pressure.
The home support were starting to grow frustrated at their side’s inability to keep hold of the ball, while Pompey passed it around neatly.
But for all of their possession, Gillespie was not exactly being overworked in the Cumbrians’ box as the final killer pass just eluded the visitors.
He had been more involved than Brian Murphy, however, with the Blues stopper a virtual spectator during the first half.
But his first task of note was to pick the ball out of the net just before the break after Burgess needlessly slid in on Grainger.
There was some debate about whether the foul took place inside or outside the box, but Duncan pointed to the spot.
Grainger dusted himself down to take the penalty and slammed it straight down the middle to leave Pompey stunned.
Carlisle United 1
The Blues continued to see more of the ball when the second half got started, but were still finding it difficult to penetrate the opposition defence.
Carlisle, meanwhile, had a chance when Alex Gilliead broke clear on 55 minutes, only for Murphy to palm his cross to safety.
Pompey had a good chance to level on the hour mark when Davies was bundled over by Luke Joyce.
The right-back insisted that the foul had taken place inside the box, but Duncan did not agree and the visitors had to settle for a free-kick.
Adam McGurk fired it straight into the wall, however, and after picking up the loose ball, his cross was claimed by Gillespie.
Cook responded with a double substitution on 64 minutes, as Evans and McGurk made way for Ben Tollitt and McNulty.
And the substitutes both made an immediate impact as Pompey turned the game on its head in the space of just two minutes.
It was Tollitt who delivered the ball that LAVERY slid in to convert at the near post to level the scores on 66 minutes.
Then, seconds later, McNULTY took advantage of some poor defending to steal possession and slam the ball past Gillespie.
It was only a brief cameo for the striker, however, as he was soon clattered while at the back to deal with a United corner and had to be replaced by Nigel Atangana.
Pompey’s patient passing game then started to come unstuck as they nervily tried to hold on for all three points.
Carlisle were understandably showing more urgency and forcing the visitors back deeper and deeper.
And they managed to snatch a leveller in the fifth minute of stoppage-time when Grainger fired impressively home from long-range.
Carlisle (4-2-3-1): Gillespie; Miller, Raynes (Asamoah 73), Ellis, Atkinson; Joyce (Sweeney 78), Dicker; Gilliead, Kennedy, Grainger (c); Ibehre (Wyke 73)
Goals: Grainger 44 (pen), 90+5
Subs not used: Hanford, McQueen, Hery, Brough
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans (Tollitt 64), McGurk (McNulty 64 (Atangana 74)), Bennett; Lavery
Goals: Lavery 66, McNulty 68
Booked: McNulty, Lavery
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Boco, Chaplin
Referee: Scott Duncan
Attendance: 5,503 (953 Pompey fans)
Loan : Sheffield United – Portsmouth