BURTON Albion suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in more than a year as they were beaten 2-1 by an impressive Portsmouth in the League Two clash at the Pirelli Stadium today.
Ricky Holmes' goal was the difference between the sides at the break as he was first to the rebound after Patrick Agyemang's header was brilliantly kept out by the returning Jordan Pickford.
And Portsmouth, who deserved the win, doubled their lead soon after the break when, again, they got to a loose ball quickest, Simon Ferry the man to scramble home.
Albion had chances, but were mainly limited to shots from distance in a disjointed first 45 minutes, and while they improved after the break, they never looked like getting a result, even when Pompey went down to 10 men following a red card shown to Yassin Moutaouakil for kicking Jimmy Phillips.
However, the hosts did pull a goal back with the last action of the game, as Zander Diamond, back in the team after injury, bundled home from Dominic Knowles' knockdown.
But it was too little, too late.
Gary Rowett made four changes to the side beaten 2-0 by Oxford United last weekend, with the key one being Pickford replacing Dean Lyness after returning on loan from Sunderland.
The other changes were enforced, with Rory Delap (hip) and Chris Hussey (hamstring) replaced by Phil Edwards and Jimmy Phillips, while Diamond returned from injury to step in for Ian Sharps, who serves the first of a three-match ban.
The only highlights of an uninspiring first 20 minutes were an injury to Portsmouth's Joe Devera that saw him replaced by Bondz N'Gala inside the first 10 minutes, and two good chances from the hosts, as first Agyemang set up Jed Wallace and Pickford saved, and then Edwards gave it away and Agyemang powered into the area but wasted the chance.
Albion registered their first shot as Rene Howe shrugged off N'Gala and let fly from 20 yards, but his effort went over, before the striker teed up Adam Reed, but he shot wide from a good position.
Pickford, renowned for his big kicking, then found Michael Symes at the far post, but he headed into the side-netting.
And Portsmouth took the lead soon after, Damien McCrory giving the ball away down the left for Wallace to feed Agyemang, and though his header was kept out by one of three fantastic saves that Pickford made in the first half, Holmes was there to bang in the rebound.
Pompey could have been two up minutes later, but another Pickford save denied Andy Barcham after he was found by Moutaouakil.
Albion ended the half strongly, with first Adam McGurk and then Adam Reed trying their luck from distance, but Sullivan was equal to them both, and then Edwards' cross was chested down to McGurk by Howe, but he blazed over.
Then six minutes into the second-half, the referee waved play on when McCrory claimed to have been fouled, Holmes' cross-shot was pushed away by Pickford, but Ferry reacted quicker than the Albion defence and beat Pickford from close range.
Albion made two changes, bringing on Matty Palmer and Alex MacDonald for Adam Reed and Howe, but still struggled to create anything, although McGurk fed Symes with a neat ball, but his shot was well wide.
Then Phillips clashed with N'Gala and Moutaouakil, with the latter kicking the Albion winger while he was on the floor, and the referee rightly sent him off.
In the 93rd-minute, Diamond gave the fans something to cheer as Phillips crossed to the far post, Knowles headed it down and the defender scrambled it home.
GOALS: Holmes 33, Ferry 51 (Pompey); Diamond 90 (Albion).
PORTSMOUTH: Sullivan; Moutaouakil, Devera, Bradley, East; Wallace, Ertl (c), Ferry, Barcham; Holmes, Agyemang; subs: N'Gala, Smith, Padovani, Craddock, Bird, Cooper, Butler.