Four goals in the second half made it three wins in three games for Portsmouth and three defeats in three for the U's. Goals from Gareth Evans, and two from Jamal Lowe plus a Rob Dickie own goal gave Pompey the points, despite a late own goal from Jack Whatmough at least giving United their first goal of the season.
There was a debut for Jamie Hanson in a midfield holding role alongside Cameron Brannagan. On Tuesday night Shandon Baptiste had been in that midfield pairing but here he was asked to play slightly further forward and join Jamie Mackie and Marcus Browne in trying to support Sam Smith up top.
That meant another inexperienced side; Baptiste, Whyte, Browne and keeper Jonathan Mitchell were all making their league debuts for the club and skipper Curtis Nelson had played more games for the club (54) than the ten men around him combined.
Last season’s game at Fratton Park hinged on a missed Alex Mowatt penalty but this season Portsmouth could afford to miss theirs when given the perfect chance to open the scoring. Hanson was late with a challenge on Oli Hawkins but Mitchell got his former Derby teammate out of trouble by diving to his left to push away skipper Evans’ poorly struck spot kick.
Some days a save like that inspires the away side but even at that stage United were conceding ground and possession. Yellow cards for Hanson, Brannagan and Baptiste inside the first 40 minutes underlined that the U’s were having to fight for everything; Shaun Derry also got a booking from the bench.
United had dug deep despite a late Hawkins effort that went just wide and an air shot from the same player in the very last minute, when it seemed any sort of contact would have got the ball into the net, but having dominated the first half it took just three minutes for Pompey to get ahead after the break. Lowe, whose pace caused problems all afternoon, raced clear on the right and pulled it back. Hawkins missed his kick again but had the presence of mind to recycle the ball and Evans found space to blast it past the helpless Mitchell from ten yards out.
Ten minutes later and it was 2-0 and United were just about doomed. Again it came down the Portsmouth right from Lowe. His cross cut out the keeper but with forwards homing in behind him the unfortunate diving Dickie could only divert the ball in to his own net from six yards out.
A triple substitution followed for the U's but on 54 it was 3-0 and game over. A corner headed back and at goal and Lowe diverted it past the stranded Mitchell to cap a good day for him - two assists and two goals - and a bad one for the visitors.
No excuses, the better team won. Any League 1 side would miss Simon Eastwood, Samir Carruthers, Ricky Holmes and Rob Hall - all unavailable for this game - but United only truly raised the tempo when the game was already gone.
There was a late effort from Brannagan that forced a save from the flying Craig MacGillivray and a stabbed effort from sub James Henry that came back off the post. Fellow sub Jon Obika then hit the opposite post after beating MacGillivray before a McMahon cross was deflected into his own net by Whatmough to make it 3-1 and at least give United that first goal.
Even then it was false hope when man of the match Lowe ran at the defence and then blasted home the goal of the game on 93 to ease any nerves that there might have been for the home fans in the six minutes added on.
Early days but United now need to show their true colours with back-to-back home games against Accrington and Burton this week. A chance to get the season started properly.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels and Darrell Fisher, stats by OPTA