Two goals for Harrold but Rovers go down by the odd goal in five
Webster 912), Taylor 941), Fogden (70)
Bristol Rovers 2
Harrold (22 & 42)
Rovers returned home pointless from their first visit to Fratton Park since December 1992, but the performance will give heart to the 2,300 Gasheads in attendance as they continue to battle for League Two survival.
Manager Darrell Clarke made four changes to his starting lineup which saw Tom Parkes, Tom Lockyer, Matt Harrold and David Clarkson return to the starting lineup at the expense of John-Joe O’Toole, Chris Beardsley, Steven Gillespie and Alefe Santos.
Woodards started at right back, Smith on the right of midfield and Clarkson up top with Harrold
On the bench there was a welcome return for Fabian Broghammer, included in the squad for the first time since picking up anterior cruciate ligament and cartilage damage in the pre-season friendly at Hereford.
Rovers began brightly and fashioned the first opportunity of the game when Clarkson won possession out on the right and attempted to square the ball to Harold.
However the striker waited for the ball to come to him and it was intercepted by Bondz N’Gala and the chance was gone.
Kaid Mohamed tried his luck from distance shortly afterwards and although he failed to get any power behind his shot, goalkeeper Trevor Carson only managed to save at the second attempt.
Just when it seemed as though they were getting on top, though, Rovers conceded a goal after 12 minutes when Adam Webster swept the ball past Steve Mildenhall from the edge of the area after they failed to clear their lines.
Michael Smith then fired a long range effort straight at Carson, while at the other end Jed Wallace rifled a shot wide of the target.
Mildenhall then did well to keep out an angled drive from Ryan Taylor but Rovers immediately went up the other end and Lee Brown’s cross was met by Smith, whose header at the back post was touched away by Carson.
Harrold touched another Brown cross over the bar shortly afterwards, but got on the scoresheet with 22 minutes on the clock.
Mohamed won possession in his own half and played the ball up the left to Harrold and while the Portsmouth players appealed for a throw, thinking the ball had gone out of play, the striker cut inside and hit a shot towards goal that was deflected past Carson by Adam Webster.
Rovers were forced to make two substitutions shortly afterwards, as Woodards and Smith were both injured in separate incidents and they were replaced by Seanan Clucas and Broghammer respectively.
Play continued at frantic pace and Ricky Holmes fired over the bar before the home side regained the lead. A corner from the right found Hollands in space and his shot was deflected past Mildenhall by Ryan
Taylor, who claimed the goal at the final whistle.
Within a minute, though, Rovers were back on level terms as Brown’s cross from the left was met by Harrold who guided his header wide of Carson and into the corner of the net.
Portsmouth almost scored again before the break and were only denied a third goal when the massed ranks of Rovers defenders blocked a shot from N’Gala.
Clarke’s side started the second half in the ascendancy, though the only real chance they created came when Parkes headed over from a Brown free kick.
Gradually, though, the home side regained a foothold in the game and the impressive Holmes continued to be a thorn in their side. He was denied by a fine save from Mildenhall on 69 minutes, but less than a minute later he swung another ball into the box. Taylor headed back across goal and substitute Wes Fogden was on hand to net from close range.
It proved to be the winning goal, though there might have been more had it not been for Mildenhall. The keeper was in impressive form again in this, his 401st league game, and denied Holmes on two more occasions, touching one effort over the bar and holding on to the other. In between those attempts, Brown cleared another Holmes effort off the line.
Broghammer, Mohamed and even Mildenhall, up for a late corner, headed over before the final whistle but now Rovers must regroup and put in another performance of the same quality on Monday, against Rochdale.
Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Danny Woodards (Seanan Clucas, 24), Tom Parkes (Steven Gillespie, 81), Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Michael Smith (Fabian Broghammer, 27), Tom Lockyer, Ollie Clarke, Kaid Mohamed, David Clarkson, Matt Harrold
Substitutes: Mitch Harding, Conor Gough, John-Joe O’Toole, Alefe Santos
Yellow Cards: Woodards, Brown, Parkes
Portsmouth: Trevor Carson, Adam Webster, Bondz N’Gala, Jack Whatmough, Nicky Shorey, Danny Hollands, Rhys McCabe (Johnny Ertl, 79), Jed Wallace, Michael Drennan (Will Fogden, 55), Ricky Holmes, Ryan Taylor (Patrick Agyemang, 87).
Substitutes: Phil Smith, Joe Devera, Sonny Bradley, Daniel Alfei
Yellow Cards: McCabe, Whatmough, N’Gala
Referee: Mr J Adcock
Rovers Supporters: 2,301