But several objects were last night thrown towards police lines as they charged a small group of Blues fans away from a possible flash point with visiting Southampton fans after the 4-0 loss at Fratton Park.
Video posted on Facebook appeared to show a man punching a police horse before being chased down Goldsmith Avenue.
Police were at 10.30pm tonight moving Blues fans to the roundabout at the northern tip of Fawcett Road in Southsea having pushed them down Goldsmith Avenue away from the ground as a police helicopter circled overhead.
It was a major operation to move groups of Saints fans safely back to Fratton train station at the end of the match – using row upon row of riot gear-clad officers, police on horseback and dogs to close off Goldsmith Avenue in the pouring rain.
Some questioned why police had not used a bubble-style operation for all away fans. Tactics last night saw police escorting those who arrived by train while Blues fans chanted and bristled against police lines.
Disappointed but high-spirited Pompey fans left peacefully in their droves after the Carabao Cup game – but a smaller group stayed on clearly keen for a possible clash with rival fans.
Overwhelmingly peaceful scenes were marred with smashed glass in the street before kick-off, men taunting police dogs after the game, and another man in the crowd spotted snorting white powder near Fratton Way.
Before kick-off tensions flared, chants drowned out the noise of the city, and red and blue smoke filled the air as Saints fans came face to face with the Fratton faithful at about 6pm.
Reinforced by four mounted officers on horseback and six police dogs, the scores of officers marched back hundreds of Pompey fans who gathered as the Saints fans arrived in the city for the first since December 2011.
Traffic was left at times at a standstill in Goldsmith Avenue along the stretch between Fratton railway station and Apsley Road.
A long line of police vans kept tight to the pavement alongside Saints fans as they made the journey on foot before kick-off in around 75 minutes, to the sound of abusive chants from Blues supporters.
Just past the junction with Talbot Road officers raised batons and rushed forward with dogs to drive back the Pompey fans.
But the occasionally troubling scenes were tempered with families enjoying the evening, along with several people video-calling their relatives to show off how hundreds of people were out on the streets.
Arrests appeared to be in low numbers but it was unclear what was happening elsewhere in the midst of Hampshire’s ‘biggest ever football policing operation.’ It involved dispersal orders in Portsmouth, Fareham and Southampton and stop and search powers put in place.
Crowds rammed the roads and pavements at the roundabout at Fratton Way while police kept the groups apart before 7.45pm.
Angry fans at times flared up when moved on by police - with many drafted in from Kent and Thames Valley forces - with broken glass in the road after kick-off.
Late-arriving Saints fans were met by a handful of Blues supporters, with one man shouting ‘you’re two hours late, you’re two hours late’ by Lidl as the visitors also jeered and hurled abuse. They arrived after kick off.
Young children were among those earlier caught up in the drama with one in tears as police on horseback kept the fans apart.
Officers kept the two groups apart, and there appeared to be no serious push from the larger group of Pompey fans to try and clash with their rivals.
People living in flats and houses along Goldsmith Avenue were hanging out of windows in their dozens watching the at times chaotic night unfold.
Three generations of Pompey fans were outside the Shepherd’s Crook - the Blues’ pub of choice - ahead of the match.Mum Toni King, 26, had brought her six-month-old daughter Harper-Rose along after she herself was taken to her first Southampton derby game at the age of 16 by dad Gavin King, 48.
None had tickets for the Carabao Cup third round game but were there to enjoy the atmosphere.
Beautician Toni, from Stamshaw, said: ‘It’s just a big game and for her it’s memories. My first away game to Southampton was with my dad.’
Holiday site worker Gavin, from Hayling Island, said: ‘It matters a lot to the city.
‘I think everyone in Portsmouth today shows more interest in the football.
'We could feel it lifts the city. When we came down here we can feel the atmosphere building.’
Season ticket holder Steve Davies, 60, from Gosport, was drinking in the pub with friends. On the derby, he said: ‘It’s just something that gets inside your blood and - it’s just Portsmouth and I love it.’
Earlier at Fratton station contractor Forrest Watson, 24, arrived having spent around £130 travelling from home in Elgin, Scotland, to watch Pompey tonight.
The season ticket holder, who moved away from the city at 14, stayed at his nan’s home in Liss last night after flying to Gatwick.
He said it would mean ‘everything’ if Pompey win as his ‘best mate is a Southampton fan’.
Forrest added: ‘I’ve kept my season ticket, I’m down once a month, I flew down last night.’
‘I didn’t get a ticket for the 2008 final and that was gut-wrenching, so I just kept one.’
This story was published after the game on September 24.