Kwesi Appiah’s second half goal wasn’t enough to stop Cambridge United slipping to defeat against ten-man Portsmouth at Fratton Park.
The U’s fell behind in the first half to Ryan Taylor’s goal, but the home side were reduced to ten men when Adam Webster was sent off just before the break. An own goal from Tom Bonner further swung the match in Pompey’s favour, and though Appiah headed home two minutes later, United were unable to force an equaliser.
Richard Money made one change, with Tom Elliott recovering from injury to make his first appearance of the season. Adam Cunnington dropped to the bench to make way for the former Stockport striker. New signing Sam Whittall took a place on the bench.
An open first half saw Chris Dunn make a good save to tip Jed Wallace’s goalbound effort over the bar, before Kwesi Appiah got in behind the Portsmouth defence but could only shoot into the side-netting.
Roared on by a large and passionate home crowd, Pompey dominated for long periods in the first half, and the dangerous Miles Storey saw a shot beat Dunn but clip the top of the cross-bar. Greg Taylor then forced a good save from Paul Jones, but it was the home side who hit the front in the 34th minute. Storey made room for a cross, and picked out Taylor, who nodded home at the back post.
But United received a boost just before half-time when Webster was sent off. Having been booked for a lunging tackle on Dunk earlier in the match, he brought down the U’s left-winger with a clumsy tackle and was dismissed.
The U’s made a half-time change, bringing on Robbie Simpson and switching to a 3-5-2 formation, and Donaldson came close to snatching an equaliser in the 53rd minute with a powerful effort that rebounded off the face of the bar with Jones beaten.
However, Pompey weathered the storm and doubled their advantage in the 66th minute when United failed to deal with a corner. Dunn made the initial block but the ball spun loose and as Hughes tried to clear he saw his effort strike Bonner and ricochet in.
United reacted well, and grabbed a lifeline two minutes later. Appiah was denied by Whatmough in the box, but from the resulting corner the on-loan Crystal Palace forward climbed highest to nod home.
But an equaliser was not forthcoming, and United will now look to return to winning ways on Tuesday evening when they travel to York City.
Portsmouth: Jones; Webster, Robinson, Whatmough, Shorey, Dunne, Hollands, Wallace, Atangana (Devera 45), Storey (Bird 83), Taylor (Holmes 63). Subs not used: Bass, Butler, Awford, Westcarr.
Cambridge United: Dunn, Tait (Simpson 45), Taylor, Coulson, Bonner (Cunnington 71), Donaldson, Dunk, Champion, Hughes (Chadwick 83), Appiah, Elliott. Subs not used: Norris, Sam-Yorke, Whittall, Lennon.
Attendance: 16,671 (away 1,180)