Pompey produced a scintillating second half performance at Fratton Park to demolish Barnet at Fratton Park yesterday.
Paul Cook surprised many by starting Conor Chaplin and Kal Naismith, although the latter had a fairly quiet game. The former was always going to make an impact, though, and he was instrumental in Pompey's early attacks in the game as they put Martin Allen's side under immediate pressure.
Both sides exchanged wasted chances but the home side always looked more threatening. However, it was the visitors who took the lead when referee Darren England decided that Tom Davies had handled Ryan Watson's corner.
Even the replays couldn't clarify if the referee had made the correct call a the ball seems to make contact with Davies' head and hand. It arguably wasn't deliberate but the lack of protest from the Portsmouth players could also tell its own story.
Former Pompey flop John Akinde stepped up and struck a tame spot kick into the net that David Forde probably should have saved, in all honesty. Akinde could have had another when he sent a free header over the bar soon after.
Thankfully, Pompey got their act together and the equaliser came thanks to some tenacity from Gary Roberts. He won the ball back on the edge of the box and produced a superb through-ball to Chaplin who struck the equaliser into the far corner from an angle. It was a finish that the Pompey fans have come to expect from the youngster who is proving to be deadly when given the chance.
The teams went in level at the break but nobody could've expected Pompey to score four in the second half.
Roberts took centre stage with a superb individual goal just five minutes after the restart. His piece of skill left defender Michael Nelson on the floor and he then arrowed a shot into the top corner to give Pompey the lead.
Carl Baker then scored a good goal of his own as his own skill took the ball past a Barnet player before he lashed the ball into the far corner of the net.
The game was effectively over when Roberts produced another through-ball for Chaplin and he was bundled over in the box by Mira Dembele. The referee pointed to the spot and sent the Barnet defender off. Whilst there is some debate as to whether the red card was deserved, Conor probably scores if he isn't brought down and thus the decision was justified.
Ironically, Roberts' best penalty so far this season didn't find the back of the net as Josh Vickers did brilliantly to beat the ball away as it was heading for the bottom corner. Perhaps Gary should stick to lashing it down the middle in the future?
Having gone down to ten men, it was only going to be a matter of time before Barnet conceded again as Pompey were rampant. Substitute Milan Lalkovic bagged his first goal for the Blues with another superb finish into the bottom corner of the net having been able to run the ball to the edge of the box.
The attacks were relentless and it was simply a case of how many more Paul Cook's men would score before Barnet were put out of their misery. The answer was just the one as a lovely one-touch passing move between Kyle Bennett and Danny Rose ended with the latter slotting past Vickers to inflate the goal difference further.
There was one final chance as Bennett beat the onrushing Barnet keeper to the ball but his instinctive header missed the open goal and drifted wide instead, but the game was long over and the final whistle confirmed Pompey's biggest win of the season so far.
Let's get the minor complaints out of the way first, shall we?
Pompey should have scored more than five, the idiots who booed Bennett when he was brought on because he has the sheer audacity to want to move to a bigger club that plays two divisions higher need to pipe down and the defence still look slightly suspect when defending set-pieces as a unit.
And whilst it would be silly to get too carried away with such an emphatic result against ten men, you simply have to applaud how good Pompey are as an attacking force this season at Fratton Park now they've finally got going.
Stodgy teams like Wycombe and Barnet have been left in the dust as they've been unable to cope with Pompey's midfield dominance. No longer do fans going to Fratton Park have to worry about watching awful football as teams who park the bus are now unlocked.
One of the biggest reasons for that is the form of Gary Roberts who, after a mediocre first season at Portsmouth, is showing us exactly what he can do. Having other quality players in Baker and Lalkovic around him has helped whilst he seems to have an excellent understanding with Chaplin, too.
This was a team effort, though, and the defensive midfield duo of Doyle and Rose have done a brilliant job to keep the pressing game going during the home games. Whilst the defence have their lapses in concentration, individually they all look good on the ball and also contribute to attacks by refusing to aimlessly hoof the ball upfield.
Doncaster's visit to Fratton Park next weekend promises to be an intriguing encounter as they, like Portsmouth, were tipped for promotion at the start of the season and have also had a solid start to the campaign.
Before that is a Tuesday night trip to Blackpool. Pompey really need to reproduce their home performances away from Fratton Park if they're going to be serious contenders for the League Two title so the Bloomfield Road visit will also be a telling one given how the Blues have struggled up north so far this season.
Pompey Player Ratings
David Forde: 6 - Continues to be a commanding presence but should have saved the poor penalty from Akinde.
Gareth Evans: 6 - Supported attacks well.
Christian Burgess: 7 - Won virtually everything.
Tom Davies: 6 - Had a couple of sloppy moments.
Enda Stevens: 6 - Solid as usual.
Michael Doyle: 6 - Kept things ticking.
Danny Rose: 8 - Energetic performance capped with a superb goal.
Gary Roberts: 8 - Outstanding showing despite the saved penalty.
Carl Baker: 7 - Shone in the second half.
Kal Naismith: 6 - Didn't do enough to make a claim for regular first team place.
Conor Chaplin: 8 - Always influential and deserves a run in the team.
Milan Lalkovic (Naismith 73): 7 - Decent cameo and will probably start at Blackpool now.
Kyle Bennett (Baker 80): N/A - Played his part in the fourth goal, doesn't deserve to be booed.
Curtis Main (Chaplin 73): N/A - Missed one good chance.