Jerome Opoku scored his first goal in professional football to ensure the points were shared in a four-goal thriller between Plymouth Argyle and Portsmouth at Home Park.
Argyle took the lead inside the opening quarter of an hour when Sean Raggett diverted Frank Nouble’s shot past Craig MacGillivary into his own net.
Portsmouth scored twice in as many minutes early in the second half with goals from the penalty spot from John Marquis and an accurately placed strike from Tom Naylor to give the away side the upper hand.
But Argyle equalised late on when Opoku tapped in from less than a yard out after Dominic Telford had flicked a George Cooper free-kick past the yet again helpless MacGilvary, to extend their unbeaten home record to seven games.
The result means Argyle stay in 9th and Portsmouth 6th with just two points separating teams as both chase a long-awaited return to the Championship.
In unforgiving conditions in front of the Sky Sports cameras, it was the home side that had the ball in the net with just 11 minutes played.
Portsmouth cheaply gave the ball away in their own half which allowed Frank Nouble to power into the penalty area and fire goalwards. His low driven strike took a deflection off Raggett and into the goal to give Plymouth a lead which their efforts deserved.
Buoyed by their swift start Argyle rallied and nearly doubled the score when Panutche Camara won the ball back in the Pompey half before finding Nouble inside the penalty area. The target man made space for himself with some fancy footwork but his powerful effort was well saved by MacGillivray.
Nouble looked dangerous every time he got on the ball and troubled Portsmouth again following a tidy one-two between himself and Danny Mayor, the once West Ham striker this time fired wide of the target.
Portsmouth struggled to get their danger men on the ball in the first half and were fortunate to go into the interval with just the one-goal deficit.
Their best opportunity fell to Ryan Williams who latched onto the end of an inswinging cross but his effort couldn’t trouble Michael Cooper in the Argyle goal.
Kenny Jackett made two changes at half time bringing on Jack Whatmough and Ellis Harrison for Rasmus Nicolaisen and Ben Close to try and get back into the game. The tactical change would offer more support to John Marquis who had been isolated in the first half.
The substitution initially paid off as Portsmouth flew out of the blocks, the away side spending the first five minutes of the second period camped in the Argyle half. But despite the pressure, it was the Pilgrims who nearly doubled their lead in the 50th minute.
Mayor tricked his way into the area and forced a save from MacGillivray, the rebound was pounced upon by Ryan Hardie. But his powerful effort was unbelievably blocked on the line by defender Cameron Pring.
A huge block that would prove to be a turning point in the match as Pompey began to motor. Their persistence paid off in the 62nd minute when they won a penalty after Kelland Watts was adjudged to have handled a header from Whatmough.
Watts, on loan from Newcastle United, was less than a yard away from the header but had his arms raised in an unnatural position giving referee Charles Breakspear the opportunity to point to the spot. A decision which Sky Sports’ Lee Hendrie described as “harsh”.
Talisman Marquis made no mistake from 12 yards blasting his penalty into the bottom left corner to level the score. That his eighth goal of the season making him the top scorer in the league by two goals.
Argyle were rocked and within two minutes conceded again. Pring, the saviour at one end 10 minutes earlier, delivered a cross that Tyrese Fornah couldn’t clear. The ball fell to Naylor who powered his shot from the edge of the area, in off the post to give the away side the lead.
Plymouth Argyle manager Ryan Lowe sent on Telford and Conor Grant to try and get the greens back into the game and on 78 minutes it was Telford who made the impact his manager desired.
Cooper whipped in another dangerous delivery which Portsmouth goalkeeper MacGillivray misjudged.
With the keeper in no man’s land, Telford had the intelligence to hook the ball back across goal to Fulham loanee Opoku to tap in his first goal as a professional to salvage a draw.
A hard-earned point for both sides, but one that could prove vital at the business end of the season.