By Gerry Prewett.
Looking at the history of all games between the clubs, in total there have been 43, with Pompey dominating; with 23 victories to Rovers 11. Only 5 of those wins have come away from Fratton, however.
There have been some remarkable sequences of results in these fixtures. Rovers failed to win in the first 11 meetings (5 draws and 6 defeats). In the late 50’s to early 60’s Rovers won 4 games in a row but lost the next 3! Between 1989 and 2017 Rovers won 2, drew 0 and lost 11 of the 13 games!
The very first clash between the teams was an FA Cup tie at Eastville on 13 January 1912. John Jones and Lionel Louch goals for Portsmouth and a Hughes goal for Rovers sent the South coast team through to the second round.
The first League game was on 12 February 1921 when Portsmouth won their home game 1-0 with Frank Stringfellow scoring for Pompey, one week later the teams fought out a 2-2 draw at Eastville. Stringfellow and David Watson scoring for the away team and Sid Leigh and Wally Bird scoring for the Pirates.
Rovers best ever victory and the biggest between the two clubs took place on 13 November 1982. Goals by David Williams, Ian Holloway, Timmy Parkin, Aiden McCaffery and Archie Stephens for Rovers and a single response by Bill Rafferty provided an emphatic 5-1 home win.
In more recent times on 21 December 2013 Ollie Clarke (40 mins) and David Clarkson (77 mins) saw Rovers secure a 2-0 win.
On New Year’s Day 2018 Rovers ended a four-match winless run. Billy Bodin had an early shot saved for Rovers and fired wide from one of their better opportunities after 38 minutes, while at the other end Jamal Lowe had a shot deflected for a corner and goalkeeper Adam Smith denied Brett Pitman.
Portsmouth took a 64th minute lead when Hawkins directed a header past Smith from an Adam May cross. The visitors looked in charge until Stuart Sinclair poached an 84th minute equaliser, pouncing to net the rebound after Pompey goalkeeper Luke McGee had failed to hold on to a Bodin effort.
In the last minute of normal time Liam Sercombe netted with a low shot from 25 yards through a crowded penalty area after a free-kick had been played into the midfielder's path.
On 21 August 2018 the visitors took a 32nd minute lead when Ronan Curtis headed the ball into the path of Gareth Evans, who finished with a crunching left-footed volley from left corner of the box.
On 76 minutes Chris Lines coolly netted an equaliser from the penalty spot with a low shot after Curtis had handled when trying to clear a corner. Two minutes later Lines went in with studs showing on Pompey sub Brett Pitman and was shown a straight red card by referee Graham Salisbury.
Pompey capitalised on their man advantage on 87 minutes when Curtis netted the winner with a shot on the turn from 10 yards.
Last season’s fixture had Gasheads on the edge of their seats. The visitors took a ninth minute lead when Luke Leahy was judged to have impeded John Marquis as he looked to make contact with a left-wing cross and Gareth Evans produced a sweetly-stuck penalty to beat the dive of Anssi Jaakkola.
Portsmouth doubled their advantage in the 70th minute, Marquis producing a quality cross from the right for Ronan Curtis to head powerfully into the roof of the net from close range.
Alex Rodman gave Rovers hope with a low left-footed drive from 10 yards in the 78th minute after the Pompey defence had failed to clear a ball into their box.
But it looked no more than a consolation until an own goal provided an unexpected twist in the tail. Liam Sercombe's left-wing corner deflected off the knee of defender Ross McCorbie and the underside of the crossbar before Goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray appeared to get the final touch as ball crossed the line to gift Rovers an unlikely point.