A first defeat since October is hardly cause for panic – but it should nevertheless give Ian Evatt something to think about, whichever way he chooses to travel home. 

Wanderers had flown down to Fratton Park with designs on replacing Pompey at the summit of League One but after Conor Shaughnessy’s thundering header settled an even first half, what happened thereafter won’t have pleased the Bolton boss one bit. 

Dion Charles’s horrendous first-half miss from close range seemed to haunt the Whites, who had been playing well to that point. Pompey’s bluster made for an entertaining game but the fact that Wanderers failed to lay a glove on their hosts after going behind was frustrating, and quite out of character for a side that had been going so well. 

Kusini Yengi wrapped things up with a second goal minutes from the end - capping off a very sound individual performance - but there were players in white who had, quite bluntly, not turned up to the party.

Evatt made two changes to the side that beat Port Vale in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy, bringing Randell Williams in for Jack Iredale at left wing-back and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in for his first league start of the season, replacing Victor Adeboyejo. 

The first half was played out at a breathless pace to the relentless sound of the Fratton Park chimes and drums. Wanderers showed class in the moments they were able to compose themselves but you had to keep reminding yourself that this was Pompey’s turf, and that a certain amount of chaos goes with the territory. 

Charles came close to getting a touch on a fine early ball from George Thomason on the left for the game’s first real chance. Moments later, the same two players had shots charged down right in front of the home goal. 

Maghoma then danced through a couple of challenges before his route to goal was blocked by Sean Raggett – the midfielder claiming a handball but having his appeal waved away by ref Paul Howard. 

Pompey were getting some joy on the right side of their attack, with Abu Kamara giving Eoin Toal an uncomfortable night, ensuring he spent plenty of time chasing into the corners. He managed to wriggle free midway through the half but neither he nor Kusini Yengi managed to get a shot away to test Nathan Baxter. 

Bolton’s big moment arrived on 28 minutes, as Paris Maghoma picked out Bodvarsson at the far post and his towering header was parried well by Will Norris into the path of Charles, barely six yards from goal. Quite how the Northern Ireland international conspired to miss, we’ll never know, but given this was a televised game it is a safe bet we will be watching replays for quite some time. 

How ironic in Portsmouth, of all places, that the miss should take the wind out of Bolton’s sails? 

Suddenly, Kamara and Yengi were finding space. Santos had to make a couple of desperate clearances in front of his own goal, and a rare slip from the captain also led to a decent chance for Alex Robertson, saved well low down by Baxter. 

Australian forward Yengi was carrying the goalscoring hopes for Pompey in Colby Bishop’s absence, and he must have thought he had opened the scoring on 40 minutes when he beat Santos and managed to squeeze a shot towards goal under the advancing Baxter. Thankfully, the keeper’s intervention gave Jones a chance to hook the ball clear under pressure on the line. 

Wanderers had been undone by a trio of set pieces at Fratton Park last season, three points slipping through their grasp in the last 17 minutes. That they allowed Shaughnessy to plunder a header from Jack Sparkes’ corner on the stroke on half time will have added some venom to Evatt’s half time words. 

It may have been fine margins separating the teams at the break but the momentum of the game belonged to Pompey, and their vociferous crowd. The zip, by comparison, had disappeared from Bolton’s work in possession at the start of the second half. 

Baxter made another save from Paddy Lane’s low drive, Joe Rafferty having caused panic with a fine deep cross from the left which also had the Bolton keeper scrambling. 

Dacres-Cogley produced a similar bit of decent work out wide at the other end, picking out Bodvarsson who could only skim his header wide of the goal. 

This was the biggest test yet of Wanderers’ mettle this season and Evatt’s bench at least presented him with options. He reached for them with 23 minutes left, bringing on Kyle Dempsey, Aaron Morley and Jack Iredale hoping to shake loose the grip the home side had developed on the game. 

Santos and Yengi’s continuous wrestling match gave the fans something to cheer and boo for the next 15 minutes but from a Bolton perspective, the changes did not do enough. 

Jones came up with another composed bit of defending to snuff out a decent chance for Yengi and the frustration started to show. Bodvarsson’s snap-shot from an acute angle nearly created a goal out of nothing but there was no sustained pressure on the Pompey goal. 

Adeboyejo and Carlos Mendes Gomes were introduced in the final 10 minutes as Evatt changed shape in a final effort to create another chance a fraction as appetising as Charles’s had been in the first half, but to no avail. 

Yengi headed a corner from Sparkes wide with a few minutes left – but we had little time to consider its relevance. Moments after another crucial intervention from Jones, Pack and sub Gavin Whyte combined down the right to roll a cross which he gobbled up from close range. 

The question is, can Wanderers now get ship shape and Bristol fashion for the weekend to start off another winning run?