A header from Harvey White was enough to give Portsmouth all three points on a frustrating evening for Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.
White's header right at the start of the second half decided another close encounter between two sides chasing the play-off places in a 90 minutes where a healthy mutual respect meant that one goal was always likely to settle things.
Recent meetings have been close affairs with relatively few chances, but tonight’s started with presentable opportunities for James Henry and Mide Shodipo at one end and two for Ellis Harrison at the other before we had reached the 15 minute mark.
It took a good save from Pompey keeper Craig MacGillivray to keep a Henry drive out soon after, and a big deflection to take an Andy Cannon blast wide on 26, but there were some some tough tackles as it settled into a proper, physical, encounter between two evenly matched sides.
Sam Long’s return meant a familiar look to the back line and there was a simmering edge to the game with yellow cards for Cameron Brannagan and Marcus Harness when they squared up to each other just before the break, but little to choose between the teams at that stage.
What the game needed was a goal and three minutes into the second half it came, sadly, for the visitors. Callum Johnson created it with a good cross into the box and White angled his header neatly into the net, arcing the ball beyond the helpless Jack Stevens.
Surprisingly, the goal didn't truly open up the game. Portsmouth now had control of the action and United were finding clear chances increasingly hard to come by against a very well-drilled side. Alex Gorrin, Brandon Barker and Matty Taylor were asked to find a way through, but other than a half chance for Shodipo nothing really opened up.
Stevens fielded a couple of hopeful efforts from the edge of the box but, like his opposite number, wasn't extended too much. When a clear chance did come, Long - Man of the Match on his return - headed a near-post corner wide and United had just not quite fired on all cylinders.
A long way to go still, and one clinical moment enough to split them: had an Anthony Forde strike in injury time gone in rather than been saved, or Shodipo's last gasp stab been an inch wider of the keeper, or Moore's' header not been tipped over with the last touch of the game, then United had their point.
A second defeat in 14 games shouldn't lead to anyone panicking, but United's winning streak has just faltered and now they need a positive reaction when they travel to MK Dons on Saturday.
Report by Chris Wiliams, pictures Steve Daniels, stats by OPTA