Pompey earn much-needed win over nine-man Stags
Four-midable Pompey moved up to fourth place in League Two with a 4-0 victory over nine-man Mansfield Town.
Gary Roberts’ first-half penalty, substitute Noel Hunt’s late strike - his first for the club - and Carl Baker’s last-gasp solo double sealed the points on an eventful day at Fratton Park.
In a lively start to proceedings, Pompey, who had lost on their previous two league home outings, led after just 11 minutes when Kyle Bennett was adjudged to have been brought down in the area by Mansfield striker Matt Green - back defending a corner.
Roberts stepped up from 12 yards to nervelessly slam down the middle of the goal as the diving Scott Shearer was well beaten.
The visitors were not going to roll over, though, and threatened at the other end when James Baxendale was given time to test David Forde in the Pompey goal from 30 yards.
The Blues keeper was equal to it but relieved not to have his reflexes tested again when Green made the most of miscommunication between Forde and Christian Burgess to run into the area - but skewed into the side netting.
Mansfield’s best period in the game then almost brought a leveller when Ashley Hemmings’ cross was headed against the post by Baxendale with the ball ricocheting off the body of the diving Forde and out to safety.
As Pompey reasserted control, Roberts was incensed not to be awarded a second penalty when his cross struck the arm of Jamie McGuire only for referee Roger East to wave away strong appeals from the home supporters.
The Blues were then a whisker away from doubling their advantage when Baker’s mazy run resulted in a stunning left-foot drive crashing back off the base of the post from outside the area.
The last chance of the half, though, belonged to the Stags as Kyle Howkins fired over the bar when well placed in the box to level matters.
Pompey looked to double their advantage straight from the restart with Bennett trying his luck from 30 yards - Shearer tipping his swerving effort over the crossbar.
The unusually quiet Conor Chaplin then sprang into life to dispossess Howkins and earn the Blues a free-kick on the edge of the area which Baker rather wasted - sending his effort high into the Fratton End.
Howkins was booked for his foul.
Chaplin then wasted a big chance to seal the game when he beat the offside trap to find himself all alone in the area but somehow fired wide with the goal at his mercy.
The game’s complexion changed just before the hour mark,though, when Bennett was recklessly fouled by Howkins, with the Stags defender mindlessly seeing red for a second poor tackle in quick succession.
The Blues were completely dominating proceedings but the second goal continued to prove elusive - Roberts the next man to inexplicably miss from close range.
The home side’s task was made a lot easier for them,though, when the visitors were reduced to nine men.
Substitute Alex Iacovitti had only been on the pitch for 15 minutes before his heavy touch resulted in a reckless lunge on Blues skipper Michael Doyle.
And it was combination of Pompey’s own replacements which sealed the game with Kal Naismith’s low cross turned home by Hunt.
There was still time, though, for the Blues to add gloss the victory with Baker’s magnificent solo run finding the finish it deserved as he crashed home from just inside the area two minutes from time.
And he repeated the trick in injury-time with the last kick of the game a carbon copy of his earlier attempt as he fired low into the bottom corner on a day to remember for the home side.