Pompey were denied a deserved victory at Plymouth today after a game of high drama at Home Park.
Two late goals ensured the points we shared as the Blues held the league leaders to a 2-2 draw on their own turf.
Yann Songo’o put the hosts ahead on 21 minutes with a header, before Kyle Bennett equalised five minutes before the break.
Pompey thought they had won it, with substitute Danny Rose volleying home on 86 minutes.
But the Pilgrims, despite being under the cosh for long spells in the second half, replied within three minutes with fellow sub Connor Smith curling home to ensure the game finished all-square.
The visitors started strongly and Conor Chaplin found himself with two quick-fire opportunities on the edge of the six -yard box, but each time he was thwarted as the Plymouth defence swarmed round him.
A good Carl Baker run down the right set up Gary Roberts, who fired wide, before the hosts took the lead against the run of play on 20 minutes.
Carey’s free-kick from tight against the touchline was swung into the box, and Songo’o stooped to steer his header into the bottom right-hand corner and beyond the reach of David Forde.
Four minutes minutes later, Baker cleared off the line to deny Jordan Slew.
And as Plymouth’s confidence grew they had strong appeals for a penalty turned down for apparent hand ball in the box.
Despite looking shaky at the back, the Blues looked dangerous going forward.
Chaplin bypassed the challenge of Nauris Bulvitis as he made strides into the box but was then yellow-carded for a dive when he went down under the challenge of Gary Miller.
The diminutive front man also saw appeals for a penalty turned down when he was pushed over by Bulvitis in the Blues’ next attack.
But Chaplin was at the centre of Pompey’s equaliser, as he again got the better of Bulvitis, before laying the ball off to Bennett, who fired home right-footed from just inside the box.
It was the Pilgrims who finished the half the stronger, though, with Forde punching clear David Foxes’ free-kick, before Enda Stevens had to mop up after a mix-up between Gareth Evans and Tom Davies.
The second half began with the Blues forcing the issue.
The lively Bennett was unable to get a toe on the end of Baker’s dangerous cross on 49 minutes.
Chaplin fired wide from the angle on 55 minutes, while Bennett’s header from a quickly-taken short corner went straight into the arms of Luke McCormick.
For all their attacking threat, though, it was Plymouth who nearly registered next, with Carey’s shot from the corner of the penalty area smacking against the crossbar.
Pompey then rung the changes, with Rose, Curtis Main and Milan Lalkovic all being introduced within five minutes at the expense of Amine Linganzi, Chaplin and Bennett.
That move nearly paid immediate dividends as both Main and then Lalkovic were denied in the same move from some desperate Pilgrims defending following a cross from Evans.
But the Blues were to get their reward when the subs combined again to move ahead on 87 minutes.
Main saw his shot from Roberts’ pass blocked by McCormick but the ball fell to Rose 30 yards out and he produced a marvellous volley that crossed the line via the crossbar.
Plymouth responded immediately, though, when substitute Connor Smith curled his effort beyond the reach of Forde to ensure a share of the spoils at Home Park.