At half-time, Paul Cook admitted he was ‘worried senseless’.
But impressive Pompey finally secured the win their dominance deserved over wilting Leyton Orient.
Poor finishing and Gavin Massey’s stunning strike ensured the scoreline was 1-1 at the break, much to the disbelief of those present at Fratton Park.
The opening 45 minutes was among the finest produced by Pompey this season as the struggling visitors desperately attempted to keep them at bay.
Nonetheless, at the interval there were fears it could develop into another day of frustration for the Blues.
Certainly Cook was concerned after witnessing an emphatically one-sided first half.
Still, Conor Chaplin’s second goal of the game, arriving two minutes after the restart, settled matters for a 2-1 victory.
Now Pompey are two points adrift of the automatic promotion spots.
And Cook revealed a day of erratic emotions.
He said: ‘After the game I felt great, but at 3.45pm was worried senseless!
‘We played well, at half-time the game should have been done, unfortunately it wasn’t, but we still won.
‘That first half was the best we have played for ages, we had everything about us.
‘If anyone watched Leeds against Derby on Friday night I thought that is how the game should be played.
‘That is how we want the game to be played, we don’t want our fans bored stiff at 3.10pm and in the first 10 minutes must have had two or three great scrambles, putting them under pressure.
‘We’ve got good players, we have built this team to be a passing team, we have changed that and want to be a bit more penetrative, having to change certain personnel.
‘It’s just about winning. At this stage of the season now it’s not about the best team or who plays the nicest football, we need to get three points on the board.’
Rivals Carlisle’s 1-1 draw with Morecambe made it one point from their last three fixtures, an encouraging spell in Pompey’s eyes.
It means the gap between the top three has closed to just one victory.
A win at Crawley next weekend could potentially see the Blues enter the automatic promotion spots.
And Cook is eyeing a huge 20 matches from now until the League Two season’s end on May 6.
He added: ‘Like I said to the boys afterwards, we have 20 massive games and need everyone to be fully behind each other.
‘If we can do that then I am sure we can have an exciting finish for all our supporters.’
– NEIL ALLEN