Pompey gifted Bournemouth victory as defensive mistakes proved costly.
But a stirring late comeback took them mighty close to what had once appeared to be an improbable draw.
Errors from the back four were responsible for the loss at Ebbsfleet at the weekend – and once again were the Blues Achilles’ heel last night.
Not even a change of central defensive pairing with Jack Whatmough and Alex Wynter given starts could resolve such problems as the Cherries went 3-0 up after 36 minutes.
Disappointingly all came from individual slips, ensuring Andy Awford’s men were never going to fight their way back against the Championship opposition.
Paul Jones was the first culprit, on three minutes allowing Tokelo Rantie’s volley to slip through his hands and between his legs into the net.
On 21 minutes poor defending saw Wynter beaten in the air by Brett Pitman to increase the lead for Eddie Howe’s team.
Then when careless Danny Hollands was dispossessed on the edge of his penalty area for Harry Arter to net it seemed a thumping was on the cards.
Yet the Blues, with nine substitutions, improved after the break and staged a stirring late finale to buoy the crowd of 4,061.
Firstly, James Dunne crashed a 25-yard volley into the Fratton end net to make the fans rise onto their feet in appreciation.
That was followed up by Jed Wallace scoring a penalty following a foul on Jack Maloney with six minutes to spare.
Pompey pushed for the equaliser but any further goal-scoring opportunities eluded them as it finished 3-2 to the Cherries.
Nonetheless, regardless of more alarming defensive errors, the late goals at least provided some positivity to the performances.
In the build up, Ricky Holmes was joined on the sidelines by Ryan Taylor and Ben Chorley, who both picked up niggles in the defeat to Ebbsfleet at the weekend.
Also missing were Danny East, Bradley Tarbuck, Ben Close and Tom Craddock, creating what is a lengthening injury list.
At least there was positive news in the form of Michael Poke’s return to the squad following three matches out with an ankle injury sustained in training.
In terms of Pompey’s starting line-up, there were five changes to the team which suffered that 3-0 loss at the Fleet on Saturday.
Wynter and Whatmough formed the centre of defence, with Nick Awford, Miles Storey and Patrick Agyemang also coming into the side.
The absence of Taylor and Chorley partly prompted such shuffling.
While Dunne, Craig Westcarr and Joe Devera moved to the bench.
When the game got underway, Pompey won a free-kick with barely 30 seconds on the clock when Andy Barcham was tugged back by Simon Francis after nutmegging the Cherries defender.
However, from a promising position down the left, the hosts couldn’t capitalise and the ball was cleared without too much trouble.
Yet on three minutes Bournemouth took the lead through a mistake by Jones.
Francis’ ball over the top from the right was pounced on by Rantie.
And his volley from inside the area went through the arms and legs of Pompey’s keeper and into the net.
It was poor from Jones, but on 10 minutes he beat out Arter’s angled drive at the near post to prevent the scoreline from being extended.
Howe’s men did surge further ahead, though, in the 21st minute following an excellent delivery by Matt Ritchie from the right.
Pitman rose comfortably above Wynter to glance a header into the far corner which gave Jones no chance.
The hosts would have their first attempt on goal in the 24th minutes when Hollands latched onto a ball down the middle and steered a shot straight at Benji Buchel.
At the other end, Shaun MacDonald tried his luck from distance, the shot deflecting off a Blues player and threatening to loop over Jones, but the keeper did superbly to fingertip it for a corner.
It was far from one-sided, however, and Buchel dealt well with a Wallace cross-cum-shot before moments later tipping over Storey’s deft lob from the right-hand side.
In the 36th minute, it was 3-0 to the Cherries when Hollands was dispossessed on the edge of his penalty area by Rantie.
Arter did the rest, stepping forward to pick up the loose ball and drive it emphatically high into the roof of the Blues’ net.
Pompey made nine changes at the break with Wallace and Adam Webster the only players to keep their places as all substitutes were utilised.
On 51 minutes, Wallace’s free-kick from the right was diverted back across goal at the far post by Devera sparking a melee, but the visitors cleared.
Devera also made a telling contribution at the other end on 62 minutes.
Rantie seized on an opportunity in the box to shoot, only for the defender to hurl himself in front and deflect it for a corner.
The Cherries themselves made five substitutes on 70 minutes with the destination of the result already long decided regardless.
Yet on 74 minutes, the deficit was reduced through a stunning goal from Dunne.
A cross from the right was cleared only so far as the midfielder.
He thumped an unstoppable volley which crashed against the inside of the post and entered the net.
Pompey then grabbed another when substitute Eunan O’Kane felled Jack Maloney inside the penalty area.
And Wallace stepped up to finish off the spot-kick.
There were three minutes of time added on.
But the equaliser couldn’t be found as Cherries held onto their lead, despite the Pompey fightback.