Chambers sees red as Town go down at Fratton Park
Ronan Curtis’ early second-half goal inflicted a second successive league defeat on Town who finished the game with 10 men.
The Pompey wideman thundered a right footer into the roof of the net off Will Norris' outstretched hand to edge his team in front.
James Norwood twice went close to equalising but Town couldn’t find that vital goal and three minutes from time Luke Chambers was dismissed for a second booking.
Chambers returned to the starting line-up after recovering from a neck injury, Toto Nsiala also included in a three man defence as Paul Lambert freshened his team up ahead of a busy festive programme. Former Blue, Ellis Harrison, led the line for Pompey.
Harrison was immediately in the action, charging down Chambers’ clearance from kick-off then picking up a yellow card inside 15 seconds for going through the back of the Town skipper, the ex-Bristol Rovers frontman prominent again soon after with a shot that cannoned to safety.
Portsmouth started brightly and it needed an excellent save from Norris to keep out Ryan Williams’ deflected shot, Harrison again to the fore as he looked to get in, Nsiala yellow carded for making sure that didn’t happen.
Norris was alert to keep out another deflected effort, this time from Ross McCrorie, then Curtis was well over after getting on the end of Williams’ cross as the home side continued to carve out openings.
Norris held firm again from Ben Close’s dipping volley, Town responding with a first foray into dangerous territory, Will Keane weaving his way into the Pompey area but his cross fell behind the supporting Jon Nolan.
Chambers almost took advantage of indecision in the Portsmouth defence, ‘keeper Craig MacGillivray ending the alarm, Nolan winning a free-kick 30 yards out after linking up well with Norwood - Luke Garbutt hitting the wall with his strike as Blues began to make inroads into the game.
A terrific crossfield pass from Norwood released Garbutt but Christian Burgess was in the right place to clear before Town introduced Alan Judge for Nsiala seven minutes before the break. Pompey made a change of their own with James Bolton on for the injured McCrorie.
Garbutt came to Town’s rescue in the first minute of the second-half, the Everton loanee clearing Williams’ header off the line, Norris’ fingertips taking the ball off Harrison’s head from Curtis’ cross, Town then taking the game to the other end with Norwood forcing MacGillivray into a save.
The breakthrough came on 50 minutes, Curtis - who had been a threat down the left - cut inside and thundered a shot that beat Norris to set Fratton Park rocking.
Garbutt provided his own rocket shot as Blues looked for an immediate response, his 25 yarder stinging MacGillivray’s hands, Cole Skuse making way for Janoi Donacien in Town’s second change on the hour.
Norwood would have found Keane with a reverse pass if Burgess had not spotted the threat before Blues made a final substitution with Kayden Jackson on for Gwion Edwards.
Norwood was inches away from an equaliser after MacGillivray hadn’t dealt with a cross as Blues enjoyed a spell of pressure on the home goal, Harrison at the other end testing Norris from distance.
Harrison turned provider this time, setting up Gareth Evans but Norris saved with his feet, then from the corner Close went close with a drive from the edge of the box.
MacGillivray held on from Jackson’s cross, Bolton blocking Nolan’s shot inside the box as Town continued to search for that way to goal and it looked on as Norwood took Nolan’s ball over the top but the angle proved too tight.
Keane was just shy of Norwood’s cross as chances came and went and Town’s woes got worse on 87 minutes when Chambers was dismissed for a second yellow, with assistant manager Stuart Taylor following into referee Brett Huxtable’s notebook as Blues Christmas started on a far from festive note.
Portsmouth: MacGillivray, Walkes, Naylor, Burgess, Williams, Curtis, Cannon (Evans 60), McCrorie (Bolton 41), Raggett, Close, Harrison. Subs not used: Bass, Downing, Pitman, Marquis, Harness. Booked: Harrison, Burgess, Williams.
Town: Norris, Edwards (Jackson 65), Chambers, Woolfenden, Nsiala (Judge 38), Garbutt, Nolan, Downes, Skuse (Donacien 60), Keane, Norwood. Subs not used: Holy, Huws, Dozzell, Wilson. Sent-off: Chambers. Booked: Nsiala, Edwards, Chambers, Nolan, Woolfenden, Taylor [Stuart], Jackson.