Portsmouth 2-2 Burton: Brett Pitman rescues point for Blues with last-gasp penalty
A last-gasp Brett Pitman penalty rescued a point for Pompey - just when it seemed the Blues were heading to a third League One defeat of the season against 10-man Burton Albion.
The Brewers had stunned Fratton Park by rushing into a 2-0 lead within six minutes thanks to goals from Joe Sbarra and Kieran Wallace.
Their bid to claim a dramatic win at Fratton Park was dealt a blow when John-Joe O’Toole received his marching orders on 24 minutes following two quick-fire bookings.
And when Ronan Curtis reduced the deficit six minutes before half-time, home hopes were high of Kenny Jackett’s side claiming something from the game, if not a win.
Yet with the Blues struggling to find a way through a stubborn Burton defence in the second half, another damning loss appeared on the cards.
That was until the recalled Pitman stepped up to fire home from the penalty spot deep into injury-time to earn Pompey a share of the spoils in the face of defeat.
The Blues got off to a disastrous start, finding themselves 2-0 behind with just six minutes on the clock.
Sabarra stunned the Fratton faithful on three minutes when the ball found its way to him on the right off the Pompey penalty area, before he calmly placed the ball beyond the reach of Craig MacGillivray.
And just when the hosts we taking stock of a dramatic start for the visitors, upped popped Wallace, who had a hand in the first goal, to add fuel to the fire with a 30-yard effort that deflected off Paul Downing and wrong-footed MacGillivray.
The Blues needed to regroup, and regroup quickly, but there was no sign of it happening with the team clearly out of sorts.
They registered their first effort on goal on 22 minutes, when Ross McCrorie’s deep cross from the left was met by Tom Naylor at the back post - yet his effort went wide.
Prior to that, O’Toole was yellow carded for a pull-back on John Marquis - an action that had Marquis & Co demanding sterner action.
Yet, their wishes were granted two minutes after Naylor’s effort.
The defender once again got caught out by Marquis, and although referee Craig Hicks initially waved play on - allowing Pitman to take aim and rifle an effort off the Burton crossbar - he returned to the scene of the crime and gave O’Toole his marching orders with a second yellow.
That gave Pompey the boost they desperately needed - and they took advantage of their extra man six minutes before half-time when Curtis fired home from close range.
Christian Burgess’ cross from the right was initially met by both Curtis and Marquis, taking the sting out of the cross and allowing O’Hara to save.
Yet the keeper couldn’t hold on to the ball and Curtis punished his Republic of Ireland team-mate by slamming the ball into the roof of the net for his second goal of the season.
In a bid to wipe out the Brewer’s advantage, Jackett introduced Gareth Evans for Ryan Williams for the start of the second half.
And the switch nearly paid immediate dividends when Evans’ cross from the right picked out Curtis, but his header was spectacularly tipped over the bar by O’Hara.
Close then saw his volley blocked by Richad Nartey, but Burton showed they wouldn’t be rolling over when Stephen Quinn had MacGillivray scrambling after he volleyed goalwards from 30 yards.
After Curtis and Pitman got in each other’s way following another teasing cross from Evans, Jackett brought on Andy Cannon for McCrorie on 71 minutes.
Fresh impetus was clearly needed and Curtis nearly got the Blues level moments later with a close-range header that O’Hara somehow beat clear when an equaliser appeared on the cards.
Another attacking substitution saw Ellis Harrison come on for left-back Brandon Haunstrup as the Blues attempted to rescue the situation.
Home hopes were raised when Cannon went down in the box following a challenge by Akins, yet the referee quickly rejected any penalty appeals.
Then Marquis had fans off their seats when he picked the ball up on the edge of the box and turned his marker before firing goalwards.
But his effort was off target, much to the hosts’ frustration.
A third defeat of the season appeared on the cards, before Ryan Edwards bundled over Harrison deep into injury-time.
It was a definite penalty and the lifeline the Blues desperately - and Pitman rescued the situation by slamming his spot-kick home from 12 yards to salvage a point for Jackett’s troops.
Pompey: MacGillivray, Burgess, Downing, Naylor, Haunstrup (Harrison 77), Close, McCrorie (Cannon 71), Williams (Evans 46), Pitman, Curtis, Marquis. Subs: Bass, Walkes, Hawkins, Bolton, Evans.
Burton: O’Hara, Brayford, Edwards, Wallace, Quinn, Broadhead (Buxton 81), Akins, Sbarra (Daniel 26), Sarkic (Boyce 77), Nartey, O’Toole. Subs: Bywater, Fraser, Hutchinson, Anderson.
Attendance: 16,610 (116 away fans)