Loan : Portsmouth – Northampton Town
Blues suffer home defeat
Pompey were brought back down to earth with a bump after losing 2-1 at home to Stevenage.
The visitors seemed content to leave Fratton Park with a point as they soaked up pressure from the Blues.
But Steven Schumacher and Matt Godden both struck in quick succession after the break to leave the home fans stunned.
Michael Smith’s third goal in as many games restored some hope, but Pompey were unable to find a leveller.
Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that won at Luton earlier in the week.
That meant Conor Chaplin had to be content with a place on the bench after returning from suspension, with Smith keeping his place up front.
Pompey made a bright start and a fine cross from Kyle Bennett was just out of reach for Smith running in at the far post.
Bennett went even closer on eight minutes with an effort from the edge of the box that cannoned back off the post.
It was not a half full of clear-cut chances, however, with a solid Boro back-line making it difficult for the Blues to find a way through.
The hosts also had to deal with some rather physical defending and Smith in particular found his shirt being tugged whenever he tried to get on the end of a pass.
But the striker did find some space down the left on 24 minutes, cutting inside and seeing a shot blocked, with Gareth Evans’ follow-up then deflected over.
There was not too much for David Forde to deal with at the other end and when Godden volleyed narrowly wide of the post, the linesman had already raised his flag for offside.
It was still Pompey looking the more likely to break the deadlock, but when Gary Roberts met Carl Baker’s cross he could not get enough power behind his header to test Stevenage keeper Jamie Jones.
There was a surprise at the start of the second half, with Jack Whatmough and Amine Linganzi replacing Christian Burgess and Michael Doyle in a double switch.
It was the Blues who were first to threaten after a ragged opening when Bennett cut in from the left and stung Jones’ fingertips with a fierce shot.
But there was none of the passing fluency that was evident before the break, with the hosts guilty of some sloppy play.
Stevenage were still lacking in ambition, but a foul from Matt Clarke led to Schumacher curling a free-kick narrowly over the bar.
Cook made his last throw of the dice on 68 minutes, trying to inject a fresh attacking impetus by replacing Bennett with Chaplin.
The striker soon had a chance to break the deadlock, but fired over from close range following good work from Smith and Roberts.
But instead it was the visitors who scored against the run of play on 71 minutes, when Pompey failed to clear their lines and Schumacher slotted home.
That proved to be the midfielder’s final kick of the game as he was replaced by Charlie Lee before the game resumed.
It soon got even worse for the Blues, however, as Stevenage regained possession from a miscued Forde clearance and Godden slid the ball through the keeper’s legs.
But some hope was restored 10 minutes from the end when a cross from Evans missed Chaplin, but was lashed home by SMITH at the far post.
Pompey poured forward in search of an equaliser and Roberts hit a low effort narrowly wide on 89 minutes.
But Boro got plenty of men behind the ball to frustrate the Blues and when Whatmough headed against the post in stoppage-time it proved to be the last chance to salvage a point.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess (Whatmough 46), Clarke, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c) (Linganzi 46); Baker, Roberts, Bennett (Chaplin 68); Smith
Goals: Smith 80
Booked: Clarke, Evans
Subs not used: O’Brien, Naismith, Lalkovic, Hunt
Stevenage (4-4-2): Jones; Henry (c), Wilkinson (Wells 46), Franks, Ntlhe; Cowans, Schumacher (Lee 72), King, Gorman (McKirdy 60); Godden, Kennedy
Goals: Schumacher 71, Godden 75
Booked: Gorman, Wilkinson, King
Subs not used: Day, McAnuff, Tonge, Pett
Referee: Ben Toner
Attendance: 15,987 (277 away fans)
Portsmouth fight back aginst Hatters.
Pompey stretched their unbeaten away run to five matches by coming from behind to beat Luton at Kenilworth Road.
It looked like being a tough night for the Blues when Danny Hylton gave the visitors an early lead and then had another effort disallowed.
But Michael Smith soon evened things up with his second goal in as many games and Gareth Evans turned the match on its head just before the break.
The Hatters did not put apply too much pressure in the second half, but there was still a sense of relief when Kal Naismith came off the bench to wrap things up.
Paul Cook made one enforched change from the side that drew with Cheltenham at the weekend.
Conor Chaplin was suspended after collecting his fifth booking at Whaddon Road, so was replaced by Smith up front.
Pompey almost found themselves ahead after just four minutes, with Christian Walton superbly saving Matt Clarke’s header before Alan Sheehan hacked the ball clear.
But instead it was the hosts who took an early lead when Evans was lying on the turf with an injury.
Sheehan took advantage of the space that created on the Luton left, whipping in a cross that Hylton expertly guided into the top corner.
Hylton had the ball in the net again just seconds later, but this time his celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag.
And it was the opposition fans feeling jubilant on 11 minutes after seeing their side grab an equaliser.
SMITH fed the ball to Carl Baker and when he was tackled, the striker guided the ball in off the post from the edge of the box.
It was a breathless, end-to-end encounter, with both sides showcasing fine attacking flair and also some sloppy play.
A couple of Luton free-kicks caused a few nerves among the travelling supporters, but one was saved by David Forde and the other headed clear by Christian Burgess.
Gary Roberts then missed an excellent opportunity at the other end by heading Baker’s cross straight at Walton.
Olly Lee went close for the Hatters on 32 minutes, volleying narrowly past the post after being picked out on the edge of the box by Sheehan’s corner.
Both sides seemed keen to get forward whenever possible and a crisp effort from Michael Doyle flew into the side netting.
Roberts came close to firing the Blues ahead before the break, drawing a fine stop from Walton after his initial effort had been blocked.
And when the midfielder won a free-kick it finally did lead to Pompey taking the lead in stoppage-time.
His short pass to Baker led to a 20-yard drive that deflected off the Luton wall and flew behind for a corner.
Roberts stepped up to take the corner and when the visitors failed to deal with his dangerous cross, the ball landed at the feet of EVANS to hook home.
Luton Town 1
Pompey started the second half as they had ended the first – on the attack.
Bennett found space to shoot on the edge of the box, but scuffed his effort wide, while Roberts could not quite bring down a clever chipped pass from Doyle.
The Blues were enjoying plenty of possession and the home support started to grow frustrated as the chances dried up.
They won a free-kick when Danny Rose was booked for illegally stopping a counter-attack, only for Pompey to immediately break up the field and threaten themselves.
And the visitors were agonisingly close to extending their advantage with a third goal just past the hour mark.
It was good work down the right from Smith to chip the ball into the centre, where Burgess rose highest to head against the crossbar.
There was then more frustration a few moments later when Baker swung in a free-kick that Evans glanced inches past the post.
Pompey were soaking up any Hatters pressure at the other and when Sheehan got a shot away on 70 minutes, Forde was there to make a comfortable save.
Cook made his first switch soon after, with Roberts departing to a rousing reception from the travelling fans as he made way for Naismith.
And Luton almost snatched a leveller on 82 minutes when Forde punched clear a corner and Sheehan’s follow-up had to be cleared from the line by Clarke.
But there was a big sigh of relief moments later when the Blues scored again to secure all three points.
It was a fine solo effort from NAISMITH, with the substitute bundling his way into space before steering a precise shot right into the bottom corner.
And Pompey saw out five minutes of stoppage-time to send the travelling army of almost 1,000 fans back home with smiles on their faces.
Luton (4-1-2-1-2): Walton; Justin (Mackail-Smith 85), Rea, Mullins, Sheehan (c); Lee; Gilliead (Cook 58), Mpanzu; McGeehan; Hylton, Vassell (Marriott 79)
Goals: Hylton 7
Booked: Sheehan, Lee
Subs not used: King, O’Donnell, Cuthbert, Smith
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts (Naismith 74), Bennett (Whatmough 88); Smith (Hunt 90+1)
Goals: Smith 11, Evans 45+2, Naismith 84
Booked: Evans, Rose, Stevens, Hunt
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Linganzi, Lalkovic
Referee: David Coote
Attendance: 8,805 (975 Pompey fans)
Smith grabs late leveller.
Michael Smith came off the bench to hit his first league goal of the season and earn Pompey a point at Cheltenham.
It looked like the Blues would be made to pay for missed opportunities when Daniel O’Shaughnessy fired the hosts ahead midway through the second half.
But Smith capitalised on a goalkeeping error late on to salvage a deserved point and give the large travelling support something to smile about on the journey home.
Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat Mansfield at home the previous week.
And they had a chance to open the scoring in the early seconds after Carl Baker swapped passes with Gary Roberts and advanced forward, only to see his shot blocked.
But the hosts immediately broke up the other end and thought they should have won a penalty when Danny Wright hit the turf.
The striker was surrounded by three blue-shirted players, but referee John Brooks decided there had been no infringement.
It was end-to-end stuff in the early stages of the game, with both sides showing plenty of attacking intent.
The chances did dry up to an extent after such a lively opening, although there were still opportunities for the deadlock to be broken.
Kyle Bennett was released into the box on 14 minutes, but it was always going to be tough for him to beat Robins keeper Russell Griffiths from a tight angle.
Meanwhile, a promising move for the hosts ended with Dan Holman blazing over, while the same player later bent a free-kick into the arms of David Forde.
Rose soon hit a cleanly-struck effort on target at the other end, but his shot flew straight at a grateful Griffiths.
Harry Pell wasted a good opportunity for Cheltenham on 32 minutes, dragging wide from the edge of the box after Christian Burgess’ clearance landed at his feet.
But it was the Blues who ended the first half on the ascendency and Griffiths superbly kept out Baker’s diving header after the midfielder had met Gareth Evans’ pin-point delivery.
Roberts then saw a shot bending off target and an onrushing Evans could not quite get there in time to turn the ball back on the right path.
Cheltenham Town 0
Pompey had two great chances to forge ahead straight after the restart, but Griffiths denied them on both occasions.
First the keeper stayed on his feet to save Roberts’ shot after the midfielder had stayed onside to collect Baker’s threaded pass.
Then he prevented Conor Chaplin from heading home Evans’ cross from just a couple of yards out at the far post.
And when Griffiths was unable to frustrate the Blues, the woodwork came to his rescue, with Bennett’s strike coming back off the post.
But the keeper was soon called back into action, quickly smothering the ball before Bennett could reach Roberts’ pass.
Cheltenham had a decent opening of their own just before the hour mark when the visitors failed to deal with a ball sent into their box, but Wright volleyed over from close range.
And it was the Robins who took the lead on 65 minutes after Burgess had been booked for a late challenge on Holman near the halfway line.
James Rowe’s free-kick ricocheted around the Pompey box before eventually landing at the feet of O’Shaughnessy to fire home.
They should have doubled their advantage soon after, but an unmarked Rob Dickie fired wide when the ball found him unmarked in the box.
Cook made an attacking switch to try to inspire a change of fortunes on 75 minutes, with Bennett making way for Smith.
A double substitution then followed moments later, as Noel Hunt and Kal Naismith replaced Chaplin and Roberts.
And Pompey almost immediately found themselves level when the otherwise impressive Griffiths failed to hold Baker’s cross and SMITH reacted quickly to tuck away the loose ball.
Both sides tried their best to find a winner, but with all their previous meetings ending in a draw, it perhaps came as no surprise to see the game end all square.
Cheltenham (3-4-1-2): Griffiths; Dickie, Downes (c), Parslow; Barthram (Suliman 90+1), Pell, Rowe, O’Shaughnessy (Cranston 90+1); Waters; Holman, Wright
Goals: O’Shaughnessy 65
Booked: Pell, Downes
Subs not used: Kitscha, Munns, Whitehead, Morgan-Smith, Arthur
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts (Naismith 81), Bennett (Smith 75); Chaplin (Hunt 81)
Goals: Smith 82
Booked: Chaplin, Burgess, Baker
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Whatmough, Lalkovic
Referee: John Brooks
Attendance: 4,702 (1,537 Pompey fans)
EFL Trophy fails to excite.
A new-look Pompey side suffered defeat in their first Checkatrade Trophy group stage match at a sparsely-populated Huish Park.
In a game that was full of attacking verve, but short on defensive solidity, it was Yeovil who emerged with all three points.
That is despite an impressive hat-trick from Michael Smith, who looked full of confidence leading the line for the Blues.
But a brace from Thomas Eaves, as well as goals from Bevis Mugabi and Izale McLeod, ensured the treble counted for little.
Paul Cook changed the entire side that started the league victory at Exeter at the weekend.
Liam O’Brien was handed his debut between the sticks, while there was a first appearance for Matt Clarke since he made a permanent Blues switch.
But the keeper was almost picking the ball out of his net before the first minute had passed, with McLeod bursting through on goal and firing against the post.
The former Pompey striker had another opportunity soon after and this time fired into the side netting from an acute angle.
It was the Blues who broke the deadlock after eight minutes, however, when the impressive Kal Naismith whipped in a pin-point cross from the left and SMITH rose to convert with a bullet header.
But the lead was short-lived, as Yeovil won a free-kick 35 yards out and Matthew Dolan’s shot was diverted in by Mugabi.
McLeod then had the ball in the back of O’Brien’s net again, although the linesman had long since raised his flag for offside.
It certainly counted just seconds later, though, when Eaves neatly controlled a ball over the top and calmly slotted home.
Pompey were still looking a real threat going forward, but both Gareth Evans and Smith failed to trouble Glovers keeper Jonathan Maddison with headers.
It was a different story at the back, however, as a defence containing three midfielders and someone making their first appearance of the season unsurprisingly struggled.
And McLeod made the most of that by netting against his old side on 27 minutes, playing a neat one-two with Otis Khan before lifting the ball over O’Brien.
Still the goals kept coming and this time it was Pompey who found the target thanks to a fine goal.
Naismith picked out SMITH in the box and the striker brought the ball under control before turning and firing into the bottom corner.
But no sooner had the Blues got themselves back into the game, they conceded a fourth, with Eaves allowed far too much time to burst forward and find the net.
Yeovil Town 4
The start to the second half was not quite as explosive as the first, although Eaves fired over in his search for a hat-trick.
Evans then collected Ben Tollitt’s low cross at the other end, but was not given the time or space to get a decent shot away.
Eaves may have been denied his treble, but SMITH made sure of the matchball when he rose at the back post to head home a deep cross from Adam May.
Pompey immediately made their first substitution, with Tollitt making way and Conor Chaplin looking to join in the goal spree.
One quick break saw him cynically tugged back by Liam Shephard, earning the Yeovil defender a yellow card.
He then surged forward to join Evans in a counter-attack, only to be forced wide and then curl his eventual shot over.
It was Smith who almost drew the Blues level with his fourth of the evening on 72 minutes, but he could not quite get the ball from under his feet and fired narrowly over.
That was his last involvement, as he was withdrawn for Noel Hunt, receiving warm applause from the small pocket of travelling fans.
There was then a late moment of controversy when Amine Linganzi diverted a corner towards the goal.
Maddison was able to smother the ball, but Pompey were adamant it had crossed the line, only for their appeals to fall on deaf ears.
The visitors kept up their attacking intent as they went in search of a leveller, but Yeovil held on for the victory.
Yeovil (4-1-4-1): Maddison; Shephard, Mugabi, Smith (c), Butcher; Lawless; Khan (Copp 89), Whitfield (Lea 75), Dolan, Eaves; McLeod
Goals: Mugabi 13, Eaves 22, 39, McLeod 27
Booked: Shephard, Khan
Subs not used: Krysiak, Sowunmi, Bassett
Pompey (4-2-3-1): O’Brien; May, Barton, Clarke (T.Davies 61), Naismith; Close, Linganzi; Evans, Bennett (c), Tollitt (Chaplin 55); Smith (Hunt 73)
Goals: Smith 10, 37, 54
Booked: Barton, Close
Sub not used: Hall
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Attendance: 1,534 (270 Pompey fans)
Chaplin, Main, Smith and May on target
Pompey eased to victory in their penultimate pre-season test against Isthmian League outfit Bognor at Nyewood Lane.
They created plenty of openings before the break, with Conor Chaplin and Curtis Main both finding the target.
Harvey Whyte reduced the deficit early in the second half, but Michael Smith then scored from the spot before Adam May wrapped things up.
Chaplin started particularly brightly and after one early shot was saved, Ben Close wastefully fired over the bar.
He was then sent through on goal, but Billy Granger was quickly off his line to make a crucial save.
The Rocks keeper was almost single-handedly keeping the Blues at bay and made another key stop to deny Ben Tollitt from long-range on 15 minutes.
Main was next to try to break the deadlock, but could not find the target after Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain had laid the ball into his path.
It was Chaplin with another go on 19 minutes and his deflected shot was heading for the net until Granger showed superb reflexes to divert it over the bar.
Tollitt’s set-piece delivery was also causing trouble, with Amine Linganzi and Tom Davies not quite able to take advantage.
Pompey finally got the goal their attacking dominance deserved on 23 minutes after CHAPLIN was brought down just outside the box.
The teenage forward stepped up to take the free-kick and expertly curled it over the wall and beyond Granger’s grasp.
Bognor then enjoyed their best spell of the game and should really have bagged an equaliser.
Paul Jones did well to deny Dylan Barnett from point-blank range and when the ball popped up nicely for James Fraser, he could only fire against the woodwork.
Pompey then made the hosts pay for their profligacy just before the break, as MAIN got above his marker to convert Chaplin’s teasing cross.
Bognor Regis Town 0
Jones was called into action early in the second half, flinging himself to the right to keep out Barnett’s effort.
But he was unable to keep hold of the ball from the resulting corner, giving Whyte the chance to poke home.
The chances were not arriving as frequently as they had before the break, although one good move involving May and Main ended with Close firing over.
Paul Cook gave his two scorers a breather just past the hour mark, as Main and Chaplin made way for Smith and trialist Dean O’Halloran.
And it was SMITH who restored the Blues’ two-goal lead on 67 minutes, sending substitute stopper Joe Taylor the wrong way from the penalty spot after Darren Budd had brought down Tollitt.
The game was meandering towards its conclusion, but MAY livened things up again with a fourth goal, driving a 25-yard shot into the bottom corner.
A couple of academy starlets entered the fray late on and Tommy Scutt came close to adding his name to the scorers, meeting Theo Widdrington’s cross and volleying into the side netting.
And Oxlade-Chamberlain denied the Rocks a late consolation when he cleared Jimmy Wild’s drive from the line.
Bognor (4-3-3): Granger (Taylor 56); Crane, Field (Wollers 70), El-Abd (Sanders 56), Barnett; Whyte (Budd 56), Beck (c) (Robinson 81), Tuck (Consaro 70); Davies, Pearce (Penfold 81), Fraser (Wild 56)
Goals: Whyte 48
Pompey (4-diamond-2): Jones; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Davies, Barton (c), Widdringron; May, Linganzi (Yates 69), Tollitt, Close (Scutt 75); Main (Smith 62), Chaplin (O’Halloran 62)
Goals: Chaplin 27, Main 43, Smith 67 (pen), May 74
Sub not used: Bass
Referee: Tim Robinson
Plenty of goals for Macca benefit
Pompey twice led against Bournemouth in Alan McLoughlin’s benefit match, but had to settle for a 3-3 draw in the only Fratton friendly of the summer.
Gary Roberts fired the hosts into an early lead and although Lewis Grabban levelled, Michael Smith immediately restored the advantage.
But the usual flood of second half substitutions left the Blues a bit ragged, with Jordan Ibe and Dan Gosling appearing to secure victory for the Premier League visitors.
There was still time for Adam May to snatch a late leveller, however, and cap an entertaining afternoon on the sunny south coast.
The man of the moment greeted the crowd before kick-off and received warm applause from the Fratton faithful.
It was the visitors who were first to threaten once the game got underway, with Alex Bass getting down low to keep out Ryan Fraser’s drive.
But the Blues broke the deadlock after just five minutes, courtesy of a fine effort from ROBERTS.
The midfielder collected a pass and showed fancy footwork to beat Simon Francis before curling the ball into the bottom corner.
Pompey were passing the ball around nicely and Rhoys Wiggins did well to stop Smith getting a shot away after a corner had only been partially cleared.
But the Cherries soon started to settle and Grabban drilled inches past the post after being teed-up by Lewis Cook.
Roberts came close to scoring again at the other end, this time curling wide after playing a neat one-two with Carl Baker.
It was Bournemouth who got the next goal on 24 minutes, however, as Fraser burst into the box and cut the ball back for Grabban to slide past Bass.
But it took the hosts just a minute to restore their lead, with SMITH on hand to calmly stroke home after Enda Stevens’ effort was deflected into his path.
The Cherries tried to restore parity and an acrobatic effort from Marc Pugh was deflected behind before the same player headed over at the far post.
As well as enjoying an entertaining contest on the pitch, the crowd were keen on showing their support for a certain former player, with chants of ‘Alan McLoughlin’ and ‘sign him up’ ringing out.
AFC Bournemouth 1
Paul Cook introduced a couple of trialists for the second half, with Chris Konopka taking over between the sticks and Amine Linganzi coming on soon after the restart.
But it was a contracted player who threatened for Pompey, as Smith had a shot deflected behind before heading over from the resulting corner.
Cherries substitute Joshua King had the ball in the back of the net before then, but his celebrations were interrupted by the linesman’s flag.
The changes kept flowing and Noel Hunt was denied by a superb Adam Federici save from point-blank range after Roberts had sent a teasing cross into the box.
But the Cherries found themselves level on 70 minutes when Ibe dropped his shoulder and finished at the near post.
Pompey came close to restoring their advantage once more when Hunt charged down Federici’s clearance, only for the keeper to recover and deny his opponent from a tight angle.
The Cherries forged ahead for the first time on 79 minutes, though, as Wiggins squared for Gosling to poke in from close range.
With Cook changing the entire squad, the Blues had lost their shape somewhat, but there was still time for MAY to scramble home an untidy late equaliser.
Pompey had shown plenty of encouraging moments against their top-flight visitors and, more importantly, the fans were able to pay tribute to a Blues legend.
Thanks for the memories, Macca
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Bass (Konopka 46); Talbot (May 82), Whatmough (Davies 78), Burgess (Barton 78), Stevens (Haunstrup 78); Rose (Hunt 61), Doyle (c) (Close 69); Baker (Oxlade-Chamberlain 80), Roberts (Tollitt 80), Lalkovic (Linganzi 52); Smith (Main 61)
Goals: Roberts 5, Smith 25, May 88
Subs not used: Bennett, Chaplin
Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Federici; O’Kane, Francis (c), Daniels, Wiggins (Butcher 84); Cook (MacDonald 46), Arter; Fraser (Ibe 46), Grabban (Mousset 46), Pugh (Gosling 46); Wilson (King 46)
Goals: Grabban 24, Ibe 70, Gosling 79
Subs not used: Stanton, Cornick, Jordan, Harfield, Buckley, Lee, Travers
Referee: James Linington
Attendance: 5,153 (531 away fans)
Transfer : Swindon Town – Portsmouth
Blues bring in Swindon striker.
Pompey have signed striker Michael Smith from Swindon on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee.
The 24-year-old spent three months on loan at Fratton Park last season and scored four times in 16 appearances.
He netted winning goals against Carlisle and AFC Wimbledon and was also on target in clashes with Bristol Rovers and Plymouth.
The Darlington youth product – who also spent time on loan at Barnsley last term – joined Swindon from Charlton in 2014.
He scored 26 goals in 72 games during his time with the Robins, helping them reach the League One play-off final in May 2015.
Smith becomes Paul Cook’s fifth summer signing, following the captures of Matt Clarke, Danny Rose, Carl Baker and Drew Talbot
Michael Smith scored the only goal as Pompey won at AFC Wimbledon to guarantee a top-seven finish.
The striker fired home in the first half to settle a match that became extremely stretched in stages.
The Blues had chances to make it a more comfortable finale, but were not made to pay for their profligacy.
Paul Cook made three changes from the side that beat Wycombe at the weekend.
Adam Barton was deployed as an emergency centre-back in place of the injured Matt Clarke (groin).
Marc McNulty (hamstring) made way for Smith up front, while Ben Davies dropped to the bench, with Kieron Freeman coming in at right-back.
Kyle Bennett (ankle), Conor Chaplin (groin), Ryan Fulton (thigh), Adam Webster (ankle), Jack Whatmough (back) and Conor Wilkinson (groin) were also sidelined for the visitors.
That meant teenage academy graduates Adam May and Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain were named among the substitutes.
It was a fairly even affair in the opening stages, with both sides looking to get forward, but neither managing to carve out many clear-cut openings.
The best fell to the hosts after eight minutes, but an unmarked Darius Charles guided his header straight at Paul Jones after meeting Callum Kennedy’s corner.
It was a similar story at the other end of the pitch, where Gareth Evans could only divert Freeman’s cross safely into the arms of Kelle Roos.
Gary Roberts then rightly picked up the game’s first booking for a mis-timed challenge on former Pompey winger Andy Barcham.
Team-mate Smith and Tom Elliott, however, seemed rather harshly punished when referee Andy Madley brandished yellow cards to both of them.
But SMITH – just like the large travelling support – was celebrating on 35 minutes when he broke the deadlock.
The home fans thought that Roberts had fouled Sean Rigg in the build-up, but Madley was uninterested and the midfielder fed Smith for a calm finish.
And the striker had the ball in the net again moments later, but this time an infringement was spotted and the goal ruled out.
There was not too many opportunities in a frantic end to the half, although the Pompey fans made their own entertainment by serenading Roberts.
AFC Wimbledon 0
There was a surprise at the start of the second half, when Brian Murphy emerged to take Jones’ place between the sticks.
He did well to claim a high ball after the Blues had failed to deal with Barry Fuller’s cross while, moments earlier, Barcham flashed a shot narrowly over.
The visitors had a chance at the other end after ex-Pompey skipper Paul Robinson had been booked for a challenge on Kal Naismith.
He was then picked out by Roberts at the far post, but the winger’s fierce drive was parried clear by Dons keeper Roos.
AFC Wimbledon were causing problems from set-pieces, though, and a free-kick was eventually scrambled clear before a corner was headed over by Elliott.
Another flag-kick then found Charles at the far post, but he headed the ball into the turf and it bounced over the bar.
And Barcham really should have punished his former side just past the hour mark, drilling a shot wide after bursting through on goal.
But Pompey missed a gilt-edged chance of their own on 72 minutes, when Roberts hurriedly shot over despite having time after collecting Evans’ pass.
And, with the Dons committing men forward, they soon had another decent opening, with Fuller well-placed on the line to stop Naismith scoring from point-blank range.
Then, just seconds later, Roberts charged through on goal, but with just Roos to beat, he sent his shot wide.
AFC Wimbledon tried to make their opponents pay for their missed chances, although Connor Smith only received a yellow card for trying to win a penalty.
And the Blues saw out the final few moments to secure all three points and leave the Dons still looking to confirm their spot in the play-offs.
AFC Wimbledon (4-4-2): Roos; Fuller (c), Robinson, Charles, Kennedy; Rigg (Reeves 46), Bulman, Smith, Barcham (Murphy 75); Taylor, Elliott (Azeez 68)
Booked: Elliott, Robinson, Smith
Subs not used: Shea, Sweeney, Fitzpatrick, Akinfenwa
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones (Murphy 46); Freeman, Burgess, Barton, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Naismith; Smith
Goals: Smith 35
Booked: Roberts, Smith
Subs not used: Davies, Haunstrup, Close, May, Oxlade-Chamberlain, McGurk
Referee: Andy Madley
Attendance: 4,799 (911 Pompey fans)
Late goals stun Blues
Pompey were left shell-shocked after somehow managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Plymouth.
Michael Smith’s first half header looked to have wrapped up the points against their promotion rivals at a packed Fratton Park.
The hosts were comfortably holding on for a valuable win, only for Jamille Matt and Gregg Wylde to turn the game on its head late on.
Paul Cook, unsurprisingly, stuck with a winning side, naming the same starting 11 for a fourth match in succession.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off to remember those who lost their lives in the Battle of Jutland, with the centenary of the naval battle approaching.
It was the visitors who got off to a brighter start when the game started and they had two good chances in the opening stages.
They both came from corners, with the first headed against the inside of the post by Carl McHugh on four minutes.
It was centre-back Peter Hartley who connected with this second, but Enda Stevens was well stationed on the post to clear the danger.
But Pompey grew stronger as the half progressed, putting their opponents under the cosh by pressing high up the pitch.
The home fans were baying for a red card when Argyle keeper Luke McCormick slid out of the box with the ball in his hands, but referee Christopher Sarginson rightly opted for a yellow one.
Kyle Bennett teed-up a chance for Michael Doyle on 29 minutes, but the skipper bent his effort narrowly wide.
Gary Roberts then showed great footwork just inside the box, only to see his shot curl onto the roof of the net.
There was a bit of needle creeping into the game as the interval approached, with a few niggly challenges.
But Fratton Park erupted on 37 minutes when the build-up of Pompey pressure finally resulted in a goal.
It was SMITH who scored it, stooping to head the ball into the bottom corner after Matt Clarke had sent a cross into the box.
Plymouth Aryle 0
The scrappy element of the contest was on display again early in the second half, with Doyle and Hartley both booked for fouls.
It was the Blues who had the first opening following the restart after the Pilgrims failed to properly deal with Stevens’ low delivery.
The ball fell to the tireless Danny Hollands on the edge of the box and his low drive was deflected inches past the post.
Plymouth were opened up with another neat move just past the hour mark, but after Roberts had flicked Doyle’s pass into Stevens’ path, the left-back lifted a shot over the bar.
Cook made his first switch on 67 minutes, with Adam McGurk making way for Gareth Evans wide on the right.
And the hosts almost doubled their advantage moments later, with Christian Burgess turning Bennett’s free-kick wide from close range.
Plymouth had not threatened since the break, but Paul Jones was called into action on 72 minutes, diving to his right to turn Graham Carey’s shot around the post.
A second substitution soon followed, as Marc McNulty came on for Roberts in the Blues’ attack.
There were a few nervy moments as the seconds ticked down, but Pompey were looking dangerous on the break, with Smith firing one shot wide and seeing another saved by McCormick.
But Argyle deflated the vibrant mood around the ground by levelling on 84 minutes, with Matt heading in Carey’s corner.
And it was Carey who provided the assist for Plymouth’s second goal moments later, clipping the ball back for Wylde to slam home.
There was hope of salvaging something from the game when the fourth official displayed five minutes of stoppage-time.
But despite throwing on an extra forward in the shape of Conor Chaplin, Pompey were unable to find a leveller.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies (Chaplin 89), Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (Evans 67), Roberts (McNulty 76), Bennett; Smith
Goals: Smith 37
Booked: Doyle, Burgess
Subs not used: Murphy, Webster, Close, Naismith
Plymouth (4-diamond-2): McCormick; Mellor, Nelson (c), Hartley, Purrington (Wylde 70); Carey, McHugh, Houghton, Boateng; Jervis (Reid 78), Matt
Goals: Matt 84, Wylde 86
Booked: McCormick, McHugh, Hartley
Subs not used: Dorel, Bentley, Tanner, Harvey, Rooney
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Attendance: 18,423 (2,405 away fans)
Smith grabs winner for Blues
Michael Smith was on target as Pompey saw off Carlisle to make it back-to-back victories.
Following a slow first half, the Blues were much better after the break and created a number of opportunities.
They were only able to take one – with Smith sliding home from a tight angle – but that proved enough to claim all three points.
Paul Cook stuck with the same side that comprehensively beat Notts County on Good Friday.
And they got off to an encouraging start as Gary Roberts met Adam McGurk’s cross, only to see his goal-bound header blocked before it could reach its intended target.
Kyle Bennett then sent in a decent delivery following good work down the left, but it was headed clear and Danny Hollands’ volleyed the loose ball over.
And Ben Davies was not too far away when he attempted a free-kick from 35 yards, curling the ball narrowly past the post.
Carlisle’s first proper chance arrived on 14 minutes and Mark Ellis should have at least hit the target when he was found in space inside the box.
There were not an abundance of chances to get the crowd of their feet, although the hosts were trying their best to up the tempo with some pressing high up the pitch.
United keeper Mark Gillespie did well to claim the ball just underneath his crossbar after Enda Stevens’ cross took a wicked deflection off Tom Miller.
Jason Kennedy had a couple of chances at the other end of the pitch, but dragged one effort wide before failing to find the target from a tight angle.
And, just before the break, Stevens received the first booking of the game following a crude lunge on Brandon Comley.
Carlisle United 0
The Blues came quickly out of the traps, but Gillespie claimed Christian Burgess’ dangerous cross and then saved Bennett’s shot at his near post.
And it was another effort from Bennett that led to the hosts breaking the deadlock on 57 minutes.
After some patient passing build-up, the winger’s curler from the edge of the box was spilled by Gillespie and SMITH forced the ball home from an acute angle.
Pompey might have added another moments later, but Roberts could not get enough power on his shot and it was comfortably saved.
There was still an attritional element to proceedings, however, with plenty of fouls to break up the flow of the game.
Carlisle threw on a couple of extra strikers in Derek Asamoah and Jabo Ibehre to try to find a leveller.
But the Blues were inches away from doubling their advantage following a quick counter-attack on 79 minutes.
Paul Jones punched a corner clear and Pompey broke up the pitch, with Michael Doyle and Roberts combining to tee-up McGurk, who burst through on goal and fired against the base of the post.
And both sides then had excellent chances to add to the scoring in a hectic couple of minutes.
First, Smith was denied by a fine save by Gillespie, with Danny Grainger getting across quickly to stop McGurk converting the loose ball.
United immediately went up the other end of the pitch, where Hallam Hope somehow failed to connect with Derek Asamoah’s cross at the far post.
It was Pompey who looked the more likely to score in the closing stages, but Jabo Ibehre wasted a great chance to level at the death when he hooked over from inside the box.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (McNulty 89), Roberts (Naismith 86), Bennett (Evans 90+3); Smith
Goals: Smith 57
Subs not used: Fulton, Webster, Close, Chaplin
Carlisle (4-2-3-1): Gillespie; Miller, Raynes, Ellis (Ibehre 77), Grainger (c); Comley (Asamoah 68), Joyce; Stacey (Gilliead 59), Kennedy, Hope; Wyke
Subs not used: Hanford, Atkinson, Gillesphey, Sweeney
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Attendance: 15,416 (361 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)