GUTSY Pompey reserves suffered late heartbreak as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Everton Under-23s.
Mikey Harris’ side appeared destined for a point after digging deep in last night’s Premier League Cup clash.
The Blues had found themselves under pressure for large parts of the match, particularly during the first half, and fell behind to Nathan Broadhead’s headed opener on 73 minutes.
However, skipper Theo Widdrington levelled from the penalty spot three minutes later during the hosts’ improved second-half showing at Westleigh Park.
But Everton substitute Shayne Lavery grabbed an 87th-minute winner to settle matters in the opening group game.
The encounter also marked an appearance by triallist Thomas Juel-Nielsen, with boss Kenny Jackett among the crowd.
The Danish defender put in a good performance in a central-defensive partnership with Drew Talbot which was given a stern examination at times, but couldn’t prevent the late winner.
Everton dominated the first half and Bassala Sambou produced a lob which narrowly cleared the crossbar.
The Toffeemen did put the ball into the net on 37 minutes when Nathangelo Markelo drove in a cross from the right and Anton Donkor slotted home at the far post.
However, the linesman’s flag was already raised and the goal was chalked off without a hint of protest from the visitors.
Pompey held on until half-time to keep the scoreline goalless but were soon under pressure after the break.
Donkor drove a shot straight at Bass, while Sambou crashed a curling right-foot shot against the bar after bursting into the box.
However, the Blues were far brighter and, encouragingly, began to enjoy plenty more of the ball inside Everton’s half.
Yet the deadlock was broken on 73 minutes when Luke Garbutt’s deep cross from the left was headed home by Broadhead.
It was a lead which would last just three minutes before Widdrington converted from the spot after Dan Smith was fouled during an aerial challenge.
But on 87 minutes, Garbutt again got clear down the left and his cross fell to Lavery to rifle home.
Pompey: Bass, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Talbot, Juel-Nielsen, Hancott (85 mins, Dandy), Chandler, Read, Widdrington, Smith, Bedford (79 mins, Maloney), Mayes (74 mins, Lethbridge). Subs not used: Collins, Casey
Everton: Gray, Markelo, Garbutt, Denny, Ouzounidis, Foulds, Broadhead, Baningime (74 mins Evans), Sambou, Baxter (56 mins, Lavery), Donkor (65 mins Byrne). Subs not used: Hilton, Henen, Byrne