Brett Pitman the late, late hero as Pompey advance past brave non-league Altrincham in FA Cup
Brett Pitman saved Pompey at the death as they survived an FA Cup scare against non-league Altrincham.
Pitman’s header with virtually the last touch of the game gave the Blues a 2-1 victory as they were pushed hard by the sixth-tier outfit.
Josh Hancock’s 83rd-minute penalty looked to have given Phil Parkinson’s excellent side a replay after cancelling out Ben Close’s 56th-minute opener.
But then came the late drama to break the hearts of the 622 travelling fans in the crowd of 8,539.
Altrincham were rightly given a standing ovation as the left the pitch and Kenny Jackett’s men breathed a sigh of relief.
Pompey’s bright early start dissipated amid some sloppy play as the half continued at a chilly Fratton Park.
And the part-timers, who included a teacher, scaffolder and graphic designer in their ranks, could count themselves unfortunate not to go in with the advantage at the break.
John Marquis and Ronan Curtis failed to convert early chances before a big shout for a penalty wasn’t given in the 11th minute as Oli Hawkins dangled a leg which the dangerous Jordan Hulme went over in the box. Most observers viewed it as a spot-kick but the ref thought otherwise.
Pompey were inches away from taking the lead in the 25th minute but Ellis Harrion’s driving run ended with the striker firing off the post from inside the box.
Hulme improvised with a flicked effort which Craig MacGillivray gathered in the 30th minute, before the striker took advantage of Curtis leaving the ball behind in the box and rattled a shot off the post with MacGillivray beaten.
Harrison was then denied by an excellent Tony Thompson save just before the break.
Jackett reacted to the first-half display by making two changes at the break as Ryan Williams and Brett Pitman replace Curtis and Marquis.
But it was Alty who pressed after the restart with both Sean Williams and Andy White having efforts on goal.
The opener came against the run of play in the 56th minute as Harness’ cross was headed clear to Close who lashed home a finish from inside the box.
Brett Pitman’s indirect free-kick was blocked after keeper Thompson picked up a backpass, before Williams had a penalty appeal ignored after being caught by Shaun Densmore in the box.
Alty were still pushing though and stunned Fratton as Burgess pulled down Hulme and Hancock levelled with seven minutes.
But then came the stoppage-time drama in the 94th-minute when Pitman applied the final touch as Harrison headed Harness’ corner across goal.