As Charlton fans were quick to remind: ‘We always win at Fratton Park’.
Pompey’s frustrating search for a first league win of 2022 continues, this time slipping to a 2-1 loss to Charlton dogged by misfortune.
At least Michael Jacobs had climbed off his sick bed to reaffirm support among Fratton faithful admirers and spark late hopes of a comeback.
Yet even that – and subsequent strong end to the match from the Blues – wasn’t enough to prevent another defeat.
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Nonetheless, Jacobs added a quality in the final third yet again agonisingly missing until his 71st-minute introduction.
A roar greeted his entrance – and within eight minutes he had reduced the deficit in a match seemingly drifting towards a comfortably Charlton triumph.
Conor Washington’s first-half tap-in after a well offside Chuks Aneke had seen a header saved had presented the visitors with the lead.
That was doubled when Clark Robertson’s flying header planted Sean Clare’s right-wing cross past his own keeper.
It appeared game over a Blues side which struggles to score – then Jacobs entered.
The former Wigan man had been ill in the week building up to the match and it was a surprise seeing him named on the bench.
Still, Jacobs class was diminished and while his late cameo couldn’t prevent defeat, it reinforced belief that, when fully fit, he must start.
Denver Hume was handed the number 3 short formerly worn by Lee Brown as he made his Blues bow on the evening.
The 23-year-old was one of three changes to the Pompey side which lost at Sunderland in their last outing, coming in at left wing-back.
While Hume stated, Shaun Williams and George Hirst were given recalls, with Ronan Curtis, Louis Thompson and Reeco Hackett dropping to the bench.
Elsewhere, young goalkeeper Ollie Webber, recruited from Crystal Palace last week, was among the substitutes serving as back-up to Gavin Bazunu.
The bench also contained Michael Jacobs, despite the winger suffering illness and unable to train for the last week.
Ryan Tunnicliffe was again missing from the squad as he closes in on a return following a latest hamstring set-back.
Meanwhile, reigning The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Year, Craig MacGillivray, lined-up in goal for the visitors.
Before kick-off, a minute’s applause was held in memory of former Blues player Jamie Vincent, who recently passed away at the age of 46.
When the match got underway, Hume nearly wrote himself onto the scoresheet after just three minutes.
Sean Raggett’s sublime long pass out from his own half allowed Hirst to beat the offside trap to find himself clean through.
Yet Hume seized control and fired an angled left-footed shot across the face of goal and narrowly past the far post.
Then the debutant swung a deep cross from the left which picked out the run of Mahlon Romeo into the box at the far post.
Yet the Millwall loanee unleashed a wild volley which comfortably cleared the bar when he should have done far better.
Charlton won the game’s first corner on 16 minutes when Alex Gilbey’s right-footed shot from outside the box deflected off Williams and flew behind.
On 19 minutes, Marcus Harness won a free-kick which was delivered by Williams and, when headed clear, was met with a thumping Joe Morrell volley.
However, the midfielder’s left-footed attempt from outside the box narrowly dipped over the bar.
The Blues had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock on 25 minutes when Romeo fed the ball inside to Morrell, who clipped a delightful first-time ball into the six-yard box.
Hirst beat the flag yet somehow was unable to apply the finishing touch, thereby missing out completely as it went out harmlessly for a goal kick.
At the other end, Corey Blackett-Taylor surged from his own half, riding several tackles, before firing a fierce right-footed effort which narrowly flew wide.
Charlton broke the deadlock on 31 minutes when Washington tapped home from close range.
Adam Matthew’s cross came in from the right and an offside Aneke produced a header which was brilliantly kept out at his near post by Bazunu.
But there was Washington to finish from a yard out - and the Blues were 1-0 down.
Moments later, Gilbey fired a right-footed shot from the angle against the upright, with Bazunu well beaten.
Pompey had lost their focus and, on 39 minutes, Gilbey beat the offside trap once again, yet was forced wide by Bazunu and shot against the keeper for a corner.
With half time approaching, Morrell had to receive treatment after going into a full-blood challenge against Albie Morgan, only to come out worse.
The midfielder was able to continue, with the fourth official also indicating two minutes of time added on.
There were no substitutions at the break, while MacGillivray earned an excellent reception from the Fratton End as he made his way to the goal for the second half.
Pompey spurned a glorious chance to level on 55 minutes following a free-kick.
Hume squared the dead ball to Williams, who clipped a left-footed ball into the box, where Hirst headed it back.
It fell to Robertson, who attempted to strike the ball first time when well placed, succeeding only in shanking it wide.
On 60 minutes, Morrell pushed a ball on the outside into the path of Hirst, who attempted to outpace Ryan Inniss as he burst into the box.
However, the Charlton man put in an excellent sliding tackle, to nudge the ball out for a corner amid fruitless penalty appeals.
The Addicks extended their lead on 64 minutes in unfortunate circumstances.
Sean Clare’s cross from the right was met with a flying header by Robertson past his own keeper to make it 2-0.
The Blues responded with Romeo’s right-footed shot from outside the box taking a deflection and running harmlessly through to the keeper.
It drew an ironic cheer from the Fratton faithful, recognising a rare goal attempt in proceedings.
Cowley made a double substitution on 71 minutes, with Thompson and Curtis replacing Walker and Williams.
Then Jacobs was introduced for Carter, earning a mighty cheer from the Fratton End.
The Blues pulled one back on 79 minutes, inevitably through Jacobs.
Curtis fed the ball in from the right into the winger, who took a smart touch before rifling in a right-footed shot which went through MacGillivray and crept into the net.
Pompey had belief and when Morrell pushed a pass through to Curtis, he took it in his stride before drilling a low shot wide of the far post.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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