Stevenage closed the gap on top of the table Tranmere Rovers to just one point with a spirited 2-1 victory over an in form Portsmouth side at the Lamex.
Filipe Morais opened the scoring in the 14th minute when he buried a superb cross from Lucas Akins giving Boro a deserved first half lead.
Pompey came out the stronger in the second half and Jon Harley equalised with a good strike from the edge of the box however Gary Smith’s side showed excellent character and determination to get back in front when Morais doubled his tally for the night with a curling cross come shot which went straight into the bottom right corner.
Smith named the same starting line-up that produced an inspiring win away at MK Dons at the weekend and he rewarded them with the chance to reproduce that display against an in form Pompey side who had won their last two games. Anthony Grant was back from suspension after seeing red against Colchester and had to settle for a place on the bench.
It was the home side who started the brighter controlling the possession with Lucas Akins carrying on from the weekend by looking a threat going forward and straight away having a fierce shot blocked on the edge of the box.
Pompey’s captain Brian Howard tested the alertness of inform Steve Arnold with a close range effort however the Boro’ keeper was equal to it putting it behind for a corner which resulted in him being called upon once again.
Boro instantly responded by going down the other end with Akins who produced a pin point cross for the unmarked Morais to head past Mikkel Anderson to put the home side in front.
The home side were dominating and the closest Pompey came was an Akos Buzaky free kick which Arnold saved and then Morais, who was causing problems to the Pompey defence fired over from 30 yards out.
In the 28th minute David Gray linked up well with Akins down the right hand side with Gray whipping in a teasing cross only for some last ditch defending to clear it.
Wes Thomas came close for the visitors soon after when he was just a few inches short from getting on the end of a cross at the back post.
Captain Mark Roberts was on his toes to make a superb block inside the penalty area to deny Buzaky and was winning everything in the air. He then pinged an excellent ball down the left to Luke Freeman who did well to beat his man and deliver into the box however Marcus Haber and Akins were unfortunate not to get on the end of it.
Morais nearly doubled Boro’s lead when he broke through the Pompey defence and saw Anderson off his line however his audacious lob was just too long, and perhaps he should have slotted in the onrushing Akins who would have been clean through.
Boro took a lead into the break but Pompey came out sharply in the second half and could easily have equalised within a minute. Thomas took the ball around the oncoming Arnold and with an open goal to shoot in, Captain Roberts to lead by example and made an amazing recovery to clear the ball off the line and keep his side in the lead.
Portsmouth started to pile on the pressure and it paid off in the 50th minute when Jon Harley finished well from the edge of the box to make it all square. He made space for himself before firing a pin-point effort into the bottom corner to level things up. Boro were on the back foot and the frustration was showing as just a minute later Dunne got booked for a late challenge on the goal scorer.
Gary Smith and his assistant Mark Newson rallied the team from the side lines and Stevenage began to get back into the game in an attacking sense. After a few corners came close to hitting the spot the pressure paid off and again Morais was the outlet. The former Oldham Athletic man took a short corner and had the ball played back to him at a kinder angle; his ball towards the back post evaded everyone including the Pompey goalkeeper to ripple the back of the net sending the home support mad.
Roberts was having an outstanding game making two important blocks within seconds of each other and really showing the grit and determination needed to see the game out and Smith’s side nearly wrapped the game up when Morais sped forward with intent and played in Akins whose shot was well saved by the outstretched foot of Anderson.
Pompey had one last attack but Gray spotted the danger and made an excellent sliding tackle to send Michael Appleton’s side home empty handed.
Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Arnold; Gray, N’Gala, Roberts, Charles; Dunne (Grant 67), Tansey; Akins (Rogers 89), Morais, Freeman (Risser 81); Haber
Unused Subs: Day, Iro, Lopez, Shroot
Att: 4,012 (987 away)