The wisdom of Sky decreed a 500 mile Thursday night round-trip for the Pompey faithful, but given their away form and the fact Rovers’ previous home win in this fixture came in 1979, nearly 700 made the pilgrimage north.
However Rovers were at full tempo from the off, and a relentless opening spell saw Jon Marquis heading home the first goal barely five minutes in. With Rovers irrepressible as they pushed for a second, Pompey clung on before gradually gaining the initiative without going further behind.
Marko Marosi pulled off some impressive goalkeeping more than once to protect Rovers’ lead, but inevitably the equaliser came just before half time, when a misplaced pass from Jordan Houghton was pounced upon allowing Kal Naismith to slot a classy finish.
Things remained even after the break as both teams pushed for a second, before the balance was tipped by a stunning Rovers team effort, building a move from their own penalty area that ultimately led to Tommy Rowe slamming home his seventh of the season.
Now with Andy Williams on the pitch offering further options, Rovers continued to surge and with twenty minutes left Marquis netted his second of the night courtesy of a ferocious volley.
Whilst the result was never then in doubt, to their credit Pompey pressed until the end meaning the score flattered Rovers a little. Only Marosi being stretchered off shortly before the end could put a dampener on one of Rovers’ most impressive wins of the season.