Exeter City suffered a case of déjà vu as Portsmouth came from behind to win 3-2 in the Papa John’s Trophy second round at St James Park.
Goals from Matt Jay and Archie Collins had given the Grecians the lead but two late goals from Ronan Curtis won the tie for Pompey.
Manager Matt Taylor made five changes from Tuesday night’s draw with Forest Green Rovers in EFL Sky Bet League Two as Pierce Sweeney, Sam Stubbs, Kyle Taylor, Owura Edwards and Ben Seymour came into the side.
It was a quick return to action for Irishman Pierce Sweeney who picked up a knee injury against Tranmere Rovers back in December.
Friday night under the lights would prove a perfect setting as a decent crowd of over 2000 enjoyed Cup football at St James Park.
The match started at a frantic pace as a long diagonal found Josh Key who tried to cut inside his marker and would go to ground but nothing was given.
The first goal of the game came in the fourth minute as a cross came in from deep from Marcus Harness which found George Hirst alone at the back post and he headed down and into the far corner to give Pompey the lead.
City wouldn’t let their heads drop and found an instant response just one minute later as captain Matt Jay picked up the ball in the centre, drove forward and fired home from the edge of the box to level the scores after just six minutes.
After a breathless first fifteen minutes the game would finally settle down as Pompey looked to dominate the possession.
Portsmouth could have taken the lead after 25 minutes as a shot from the edge of the box clipped Sam Stubbs and flew across the penalty area where Hirst took an air shot with the goal at his mercy.
Hirst would again prove to be a menace for the City backline and he came close to a second as he turned his man expertly and fired towards goal but the ball took a nick off a City defender taking it just wide.
City’s best chance of the half saw Ben Seymour pick up a loose ball in the centre of the Park and drove forward towards the area but his drive was well blocked and the sides went in level at the break.
Pierce Sweeney came through his scheduled 45 minutes after recovering from injury and was replaced by Harry Kite at half time, who would play in the unfamiliar position in the centre of defence.
The second half again started in frantic fashion as City looked to work a chance through the wings. The first chance would come after a lovely ball down the line from Caprice who found Edwards in space, his cross was perfect for Matt Jay but he could only fire straight at Bass in the Pompey goal.
City really should have taken the lead on 52 minutes as Kyle Taylor slid in MJ on the wing he played in Josh Key who drove the ball across the face of the box and Owura-Edwards was just unable to get a touch!
The Grecians remained on top and would almost go ahead from a corner as Archie Collins fizzed a cross into the box which just evaded Stubbs at the back post.
City took the lead that their second half play deserved in the 76th minute as Josh Key picked the ball up and drove towards the edge of the box before passing to Archie Collins who shifted the ball onto his left foot and hit a shot which took a deflection and nestled into the bottom corner!
Into the closing stages Pompey created a great chance to level as a ball was crossed in from deep and Hackett-Fairchild found himself unmarked from six-yards out, his header was straight at Dawson.
Portsmouth would find a late leveller as a free-kick was swung in from the edge of the box which was met by the head of Curtis and it flew into the bottom corner.
Two minutes later and Pompey would win the tie as Ronan Curtis found space in the area to fire home and just like in 2020 Pompey came from behind to win late on.
The Grecians are quickly next in action next Saturday againt Scunthorpe United in a 3pm kick-off in EFL Sky Bet League Two.
City XI: Dawson; Key, Sweeney (Kite, 45), Stubbs, Diabate, Caprice; Collins, Taylor (Dieng, 55); Jay (Coley, 78), Owura-Edwards (Amond, 71), Seymour (J. Brown, 55)
Subs not used: S. Brown, Ray
Portsmouth XI: Bass; Freeman, Raggett, Ogilvie, Romeo, Azeez (Thompson, 62), Morell, Brown (C), Harness (Jacobs, 62), Hirst (Hackett-Fairchild 62), Marquis (Curtis, 62)
Subs not used: Steward; Downing, Jewitt-White
Booked: Morell, Raggett
Attendance: 2146 (inc 507 away).