Defeat knocks Pompey off top spot

Curtis Main in action for Pompey against Reading under-23s in last season's Checkatrade Trophy. Picture: Joe Pepler  PompReading PPP-160510-131550001

Pompey question: Will you attend the Fulham under-21s Checkatrade Trophy game?

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Pompey were knocked off top spot as they surrendered their unbeaten League Two start to Exeter City tonight.

The Blues were caught by a sucker-punch in each half as they fell to a 2-1 home defeat.

David Wheeler sends Exeter on their way to victory with the game's opener Picture: Joe Pepler

David Wheeler sends Exeter on their way to victory with the game's opener Picture: Joe Pepler

David Wheeler and Arron Davies did the damage for the Grecians in front of 15,822 fans at Fratton Park

Gary Roberts scored with a deflected strike for Pompey from 25 yards with virtually the last kick of the match.

The loss means the Blues failed to topple the nine-game unbeaten start produced by Harry Redknapp’s Division One champions in 2002.

It was a powerful start from the home side and they had three quick-fire chances to take the lead in the third minute.

Two of them fell to Gareth Evans, but keeper Bobby Olejnik kept out his first effort and the follow-up was blocked by Jordan Moore-Taylor.

Seconds later Jayden Stockley headed wide from Ben Davies’ cross as the Blues powered forward.

A flowing move ended with Conor Chaplin’s shot being blocked at the far post after 18 minutes.

But Pompey were hit with the ultimate sucker-punch two minutes later, when Hollands was dispossessed by Wheeler, who advanced and fired home a fine drive from 20 yards out.

The home side’s possession topped 81 per cent at that stage - but the stat which mattered was they were a goal behind.

The Blues lost their way as the half went on, before waking from their slumber three minutes before the break. as a flowing moved ended with Kyle Bennett curling a shot at Olejnik.

The second half started like the first - with Pompey asking the questions.

But it went the same way as the opening 45 minutes, with the pressure amounting to nothing and the Blues being hit on the counter.

That came after 65 minutes, with the home fans claiming a foul on Evans and offside on Lee Holmes.

Neither decision was given as home keeper Aaron McCarey pushed out Holmes’ cross - and Davies nodded home from a couple of yards.

Cook’s response was to send on Roberts, with Matt Tubbs already on for Chaplin.

Stockley then met Bennett’s corner with a firm header - but Danny Butterfield cleared off the line.

The final third of the match was all about Pompey trying to find a way back into the game.

Enda Stevens drilled a shot across goal from a short corner which somehow stayed out - then Tubbs headed over Bennett’s cross from five yards.

Roberts grabbed a goal back deep in stoppage-time, but it proved little more than a late consolation as Pompey dropped to third in the table.