Wanderers missed a chance to close the gap on the sides above them following a 3-1 defeat against Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

Dion Charles put the Whites in front early in the second half, slotting home from close range after Ricardo Santos had an effort blocked in front of goal.

But the home side hit back through Ryley Towler’s brace before Colby Bishop added a third during the final stages.

Schedule takes its toll

Tuesday night’s game was Wanderers’ seventh since the start of February, and the squad seemed to be suffering from physical and mental fatigue.

While Ian Evatt tried to rest a few players against Port Vale at the weekend, heading down to Portsmouth was always going to be a tough test after such a busy month.

But the Whites’ March schedule looks a lot more manageable, with only three games pencilled in at this stage.

There is also an international break coming up before the Papa Johns Trophy final against Plymouth, which will give most of the squad a chance to refresh.

A missed opportunity?

With most of the sides around them having no midweek fixture, last night’s game was a chance for Wanderers to gain further ground in the promotion race.

While they remain fourth in the League One table, Evatt’s men have now played two more games than Ipswich and Derby, while Barnsley have four games in hand at this stage.

There are likely to be plenty more twists and turns before the end of the season, but the Whites will be disappointed they couldn’t hold onto their lead against Pompey.

One factor that could work in their favour is the number of games the other top six sides will have to navigate in the coming weeks, while Wanderers are arguably nearing the end of their most demanding period.

Charles nearing milestone

The Northern Ireland international has now scored seven times in his last 11 games and is up to 18 goals for the campaign.

Charles continues to prove his importance at Wanderers and seems to have a knack for getting himself in the right place at the right time.

He has almost surpassed his best return at this level, having scored 19 times in the league for Accrington during the 2020/21 season.

The forward is showing no sign of slowing down and will be keen to add to his tally heading into the business stage of the campaign.

Set-piece frustration

Wanderers have had plenty of joy from set-plays recently, but it proved to be their undoing against Pompey.

All three goals came from dead ball scenarios, and Evatt voiced his frustrations with his side’s defending after the game.

Towler’s first goal, in particular, seemed a soft one after the Whites allowed the ball to bounce inside the area while trying to maintain a high defensive line.