Two goals from Ryan Bird helped Pompey to a 3-2 win over Exeter today.
In a nail-biting clash, Guy Whittingham’s side went 3-0 up in front of 16,168 fans thanks to two Bird headers and an opener from 40 yards from Ricky Holmes.
But the high-flying Grecians grabbed two goals from Danny Coles and sub John O’Flynn to make it a nervy finale.
Pompey started the game on the front foot and tore into Exeter with a string of attacks.
Bird failed to convert a dangerous ball in from Jed Wallace after four minutes.
Then Patrick Agyemang couldn’t nod in Yassin Moutaouakil’s cross after 15 minutes, with Bird lurking.
Holmes then fired over after Patrick Agyemang was forced wide after rounding keeper Artur Krysiak and teed up the winger.
Exeter had a decent chance of their own after 22 minutes when Matt Grimes saw his 20-yarder cannon off the bar.
Bird then did well to get his shot on target when forced wide.
Exeter were under the coash but sporadically threatening, and Trevor Carson did well to hold Alan Gow’s shot when he was clean through.
Pompey’s pressure finally paid off on the stroke of half-time, but there was an air of fortune in it as Holmes’ wind-assisted cross deceived Krysiak and flew in.
It may have been a tad fortunate but it gave Pompey a lead their pressure warranted.
There was no let-up after the break as the Blues added to their advantage four minutes after the restart.
It was a delightful ball in from Moutaouakil which Bird did superbly to head home at the back post.
Pompey were asking all the questions but Carson did well to keep out Arron Davies from point-blank range after 67 minutes.
Bird looked to have put the game out of Exeter’s reach with 20 minutes left, with a bullet-like header from sub Andy Barcham’s cross.
But then came the Exeter fightback as Coles headed home Davies’ corner with 15 minutes left.
It was squeaky-bum time with six minutes left as sub O’Flynn bundled a cross home.
Then Carson saved superbly from Tom Nichols’ header late on,
Exeter asked plenty of questions but, with Fratton Park rocking, Pompey held on to grab the points.