Yeovil 4 Pompey 3
Pompey's first experience of the Checkatrade Trophy proved to be entertaining if not prosperous as they were beaten 4-3 by Yeovil Town at Huish Park tonight.
The visitors, who made 11 changes to the side who beat Exeter in League Two on Saturday - incurring a fine in the process - had a brilliant Michael Smith hat-trick to celebrate.
But on a night of little significance they were left to rue defensive fragility in defeat as they conceded four first-half goals,with Tom Eaves bagging a brace as ex-Blues striker Izale McLeod and Bevis Mugabi also found the target.
Pompey had made their feelings about the competition well known in the build up to tonight’s game - attended by only 1,534 people (270 away fans) - and changed their entire side for the visit to the south west.
That meant a debut for keeper Liam O’Brien and a first start of the campaign for Matt Clarke, following his permanent switch from Ipswich in the summer.
They didn’t appear hampered in the early running, though, as recalled striker Smith nodded them in front inside 10 minutes, after McLeod struck the post in the opening stages.
It was an emphatic effort from Smith - with the front man powerfully dispatching Kal Naismith’s inviting cross.
But three minutes later O’Brien was picking the ball out of his net as Matty Dolan’s free-kick was diverted in by the head of defender Mugabi.
And on 22 minutes, Yeovil had turned the game on its head as Eaves beat the offside trap to slot past O’Brien - moments after McLeod had seen an effort disallowed.
Five minutes later, though, McLeod did have his goal after playing a neat one-two with Otis Khan and coolly chipping over the onrushing O’Brien.
Pompey found a way back into the game on 37 minutes - and it was Smith who provided it, taking Naismith’s cross in his stride before expertly rolling his man in the box and finding the bottom corner.
But as they had done earlier, the Blues conceded shortly after scoring as Eaves ran unchallenged to the edge of the box to fire home Yeovil’s fourth.
Pompey and Smith started the second half as they had the first, though, netting 10 minutes into proceedings as the striker got up well at the far post to loop home a header from young Adam May’s cross.
It was a superb hat-trick from the forward who had made an inauspicious start to the League Two campaign - failing to net in three prior starts.
Playing with confidence, though, Smith almost bagged a fourth goal 20 minutes from time, smashing over from the edge of the box - his last action of the game as Noel Hunt took his place.
The visitors thought they had found a leveller with eight minutes left on the clock as Amine Linganzi bundled a corner goalwards only for Glovers keeper Jonathan Maddison to stop it on his line.
The Blues, though, were convinced it had crossed the whitewash with a furious Hunt remonstrating with the linesman to no avail.
Pompey had one last chance to send it to penalties in stoppage-time but Gareth Evans’ fierce drive flew just over the bar as the visitors were edged out in an entertaining affair at Huish Park.