It never rains, but it pours. This was the perfect opportunity for Portsmouth, bottom of the Championship and without a win all season, to break their duck. After all, Sheffield United had conceded four at home to Scunthorpe in midweek.
But for a little more composure in front of goal, and a couple of superb saves from Steve Simonsen, Steve Cotterill's side would have done it.
They controlled the majority of the match, with the lively John Utaka and the industrious Liam Lawrence going close in either half.
But the Welsh striker Ched Evans fired home a stinging free-kick off the right-hand post in the 75th minute, beating Jamie Ashdown all ends up. The goal gave the United manager, Gary Speed, a third 1-0 win in four matches, despite Portsmouth's dominance.
"It's been a bit like that for the last three matches," said Cotterill. "I thought that was a game we deserved to win, I really do . I don't know what to say. It summed it up when their goalkeeper was named man of the match."
The visitors are now without an away league win in 19 fixtures but they fought and battled here, typified by a commanding defensive performance from their captain, Aaron Mokoena.
United rarely threatened, a miscued Johnny Ertl drive from distance the closest they came before their goal. They were clumsy throughout, over-hitting crosses, free-kicks and passes.
Unfortunately for Pompey, a contentious handball from the full-back Carl Dickinson was key. Cotterill said, having seen the replay, that the ball had ricocheted off Dickinson's backside and on to his hand. Speed said it was "accidental".
Evans's free-kick was his second goal of the season. "Ched's got that in his locker, he's got a rocket in his right foot,"said Speed. "I was just about to make a substitution, but I thought I'd leave it until he took the free-kick. Thankfully, I did."Reuse content