Last-gasp heartache for Pompey

The Pompey players look dejected at the final whistle Picture: Joe Pepler
The Pompey players look dejected at the final whistle Picture: Joe Pepler
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Two goals in two minutes wrecked Pompey’s automatic promotion hopes as they fell to a 2-1 loss to Plymouth.

Jamille Matt’s 84th-minute header was gut-wrenchingly followed up with sub Gregg Wylde’s winner to send Paul Cook’s side to a defeat which savages their hopes of going up via the top three.

Michael Smith had set the Blues on their way with a 37th-minute header.

And Pompey appeared in control from that stage against Derek Adams’ side in front of a crowd of 18,423.

But they contrived to shoot themselves in foot from a position of control on an afternoon when three points would have given them control of their destiny with five games left.

The stakes were high and that was clear from a frenetic opening at a crackling Fratton Park.

And there was an early hearts-in-mouths moment for Pompey as Carl McHugh header a corner off the post.

Graham Carey’s header was then cleared away from danger by Enda Stevens as Plymouth showed their threat from set-pieces.

Pompey’s reply came from a marauding run down the left by Stevens after 12 minutes, but Luke McCormick smothered his effort after he cut in and let an angled shot fly.

Captain Michael Doyle then cracked a 20 yarder just wide, before a moment of quality from Gary Roberts saw him cut inside Peter Hartley and curl a shot inches over from just inside the box.

Cook’s side were beginning to gain the ascendancy after a frenetic opening - and their reward arrived after 37 minutes.

Kyle Bennett’s free-kick was cleared as far as Matt Clarke and Smith stooped to head the ball home as the delivery came in.

The second half continued in the same vein as the first ended - with Pompey on the front foot.

And Danny Hollands almost added a second after 56 minutes when his drive from the edge of the box deflected just wide.

It looked for all the world like a killer second for Pompey after 68 minutes when Burgess shot at goal from six yards from Bennett’s free-kick, but his effort rolled agonisingly wide.

But it was Plymouth who threatened next as Paul Jones dived full length to tip Graham Carey’s 20 yarder around the post.

Two goals in two minutes then turned the game on its head in agonising fashion.

First it was Matt who headed home from a corner after 84 minutes when Jones appeared to have gathered the ball. There were few complaints from the home players.

And it all went terribly wrong as the visitors grabbed a a second through Wylde who shot through Jones’ legs from Carey’s cutback.

There was no way back through five minutes of stoppage time - and the news a win would have put Pompey’s fate back in their own hands made the loss an even more bitter pill to swallow.