The Dockyard derby was full of talking points as Plymouth Argyle, and Portsmouth shared the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Home Park.
Kenny Jackett's side came to life in the second period with two quickfire goals, but it wasn't enough for them to get past Ryan Lowe's men who equalised late through Jerome Opoku.
Plymouth had the chance to go above Portsmouth with a win, but the point takes them to within two points of the play-off spots after promotion from League Two last season.
Story of the match
It was the best home record against the best away record in the league heading into the game with Lowe’s side unbeaten at The Theatre of Greens and Pompey unbeaten on their travels.
The Pilgrims had won their last three but had not beat Portsmouth since April 2017 and Pompey had the edge in the overall head-to-head battle between the two clubs.
Plymouth took the lead when Sean Raggett diverted Frank Nouble’s cross-cum-shot into his own net. It was great awareness from the Plymouth striker, replacing top scorer Luke Jephcott who was away with the Wales U21, as he used his awareness to latch onto a misdirected defensive header in the build-up to the goal.
Nouble looked the liveliest of the Argyle forwards, and he had a good chance to double the home side’s lead as Pan Camara stole possession high up the field, and threaded the ball through to Nouble who dropped his marker and forced a strong save off Craig MacGillivray.
The hosts certainly had the better of it going forward in the first period, with Portsmouth failing to register a shot on target in the opening 45, despite the possession being shared almost evenly.
John Marquis was in hot form going into the game, leading the scoring table for League One with seven goals, which had all come in his last five games; however, he was completely stifled by the Plymouth backline.
Just five minutes into the second half Plymouth should have doubled their lead if not for some brilliant last-ditch defending from Cameron Pring to deny Ryan Hardie on the line after MacGillivray saved shots from both George Cooper and Danny Mayor.
Marquis and Portsmouth needed a way into the game, and they were handed a golden opportunity by Kelland Watts who raised his arms to block substitute Jack Whatmough’s header to gift the visitors a penalty. Marquis converted the subsequent spot-kick to level the scores and within minutes of that Portsmouth were ahead.
It was Tom Naylor who popped up with the go-ahead goal for Jackett’s men after a half-hearted clearance from Tyrese Fornah allowed the midfielder to fire from just outside the box, finding the bottom left with a cultured half volley.
Within the space of two minutes, Plymouth went from ahead and in control to trailing. Still, they responded well to falling behind and found their equaliser as Opoku bundled in Dom Telford’s header back across goal after Cooper curled in a free-kick from the left.
Takeaways from the match
Sloppy mistakes cost Plymouth
Portsmouth were uninspiring in the first half, and the hosts would have felt they were in a comfortable position at the break with Nouble and Cooper having chances to put The Greens out of sight before half-time.
However, a needless handball and a careless clearance left Lowe's side chasing the game towards the end and means they are without a clean sheet in their last six league games.
As a newly promoted side, they will be happy with how they have started the season, but Plymouth need to be tighter at the back if they are serious in aiming for back-to-back promotions.
Portsmouth have found their mettle away from home
Pompey's goalscorers Marquis and Naylor were passengers in the second half, but they were there when their team needed them, and their cutting edge in front of goal has been key their unbeaten start on the road.
Jackett's side have scored two or more goals in their last five away games in the league and tonight showed that his team can up the offensive intensity when they need to.
Plymouth Argyle - Danny Mayor
The 30-year-old put in a composed performance in the midfield with a 90% accuracy of his 39 passes with two interceptions and five recoveries on the defensive end.
With four key chances created Mayor orchestrated Plymouth's attacking play and was key to his side's response to going behind after two quick Portsmouth goals.
Portsmouth - Tom Naylor
The Portsmouth skipper's well-taken goal showed his finesse and the midfielder was very much involved in Pompey's second-half recovery, with a total of 50 touches in the middle of the park.
It was by no means a complete performance from anyone in a Portsmouth shirt, but Naylor was inspired in the second period.