Scott Murray's early goal was the culmination of a sweeping one-two with Colin Cramb and the wing-back's crisp finish seemed to promise more. Murray's blood was up and he was unlucky to see his cross, which confused Aaron Flahavan in the Pompey goal, bounce off the crossbar.
That surging enthusiasm gave City the edge but only eight minutes later Sammy Igoe was out-pacing the Bristol defence to be first to Jeff Peron's through ball and the scores were level again.
By then Adrian Whitbread and Andy Awford had mastered the knack of denying Ade Akinbiyi the space that his speed requires to create danger.
Pompey's more measured approach saw them gain control with Peron and David Hillier in providing a calm centre to their approach play. In the 70th minute, Peron picked up a right-wing corner, veered past a couple of challenges to penetrate the left side of the City penalty area before dropping a sweet chip across the face of the goal. It needed only the gentlest of touches and Steve Claridge's head provided it to glance the ball behind Keith Welch.
City could have panicked at going behind but to their credit they laboured hard to pile the pressure on their visitors especially in the last 10 minutes. Awford and Whitbread, carrying on despite an obvious injury after a late tackle, were able to keep their attackers at bay, helped by some wild and inaccurate finishing until five minutes from the end.
Soren Andersen, a Danish international, finally delivered on the occasional threat he had posed when he appeared as a second-half substitute. He won the race to get the first touch on Mickey Bell's cross and a point was saved as his strong shot swept beyond Flahavan.Reuse content