Two late goals broke 10-man Pompey’s hearts at Fratton Park today against Chesterfield.
Strikes from Spireites subs Armand Gnanduillet and Tendayi Darikwa gave their side a 2-0 success and floored the Blues after a gritty second-half display.
The game swung on David Connolly’s dismissal moments after a clear penalty wasn’t given on the veteran striker after he was fouled Liam Cooper in the 38th minute.
Connolly clashed with midfielder Sam Hird and was given his marching orders by ref Steve Bratt.
Bratt incurred the wrath of the majority of the 15,999 crowd for a poor display which had a big impact on the match.
The game started at a frenetic pace with both sides going at it full throttle.
Patrick Agyemang had a early chance well blocked by Hird before Joe Devera twice headed over from corners.
Pompey then had a let-off when Marc Richards raced clear and scored but was narrowly offside.
John Sullivan then saved well from Jay O’Shea before the first of two penalty appeals for fouls on Connolly were not given.
Cooper was the man who challenged the striker in the box in the 19th minute but ref Bratt waved play on.
Richards and Johnny Ertl then both fired chances wide before huge controversy surfaced at Fratton Park seven minutes before the break.
Connolly appeared to be clearly brought down in the box by Cooper but ref Bratt again said no to the anger and the bemusement of the home crowd.
Moments later the Pompey captain clashed with midfielder Hird who went to ground poleaxed.
The linesman immediately flagged and the referee waited for the dust to settle before pulling out red card.
That sent the home crowd into a frenzy of indignation with Bratt the focus of their anger at the half-time whistle.
There was another penalty appeal ignored after the restart as Barcham went to ground in the box, although it would perhaps have been a soft decision had it been given.
Fratton Park erupted in sarcastic cheers when the ref gave a foul on Holmes 25 yards out – but he hit his free-kick into the wall.
Ryan Bird was thrown on for Agyemang after 64 minutes with Jed Wallace replacing the excellent Holmes 10 minutes later.
Bradley so nearly won it for Pompey in stunning fashion with 10 minutes to go with a wonder run into the box.
He beat three men before Lee saved his effort with Bird’s follow-up deflecting wide.
Pompey’s hopes of a return from the game were cruelly dashed, though, when sub Gnanduillet grabbed the winner with three minutes left.
The powerhouse striker rose high to nod home Eoin Doyle’s cross and leave Sullivan with no chance.
And then the visitors grabbed a second with seconds remaining when Darikwa broke clear and drilled a shot across Sullivan.