A heartbreaking last-minute goal from Brett Pitman denied Altrincham the chance of progressing further into this year’s Emirates FA Cup as Portsmouth ran out 2-1 victors.
Despite an inspiring performance and relentless effort from Phil Parkinson's men, it simply wasn’t meant to be. An unstoppable strike from Ben Close and Pitman’s stoppage time header were enough to overcome Josh Hancock’s late penalty, resulting in the home side progressing to the third round of the cup.
Parkinson made just one change to the side that beat York City away in last week's FA Trophy tie with John Johnston replacing the cup-tied Luke Wall.
It was a shaky start to the game for Alty, with Portsmouth applying large amounts of pressure early on. Ronan Curtis came close with a header just three minutes into the game following an enticing ball from Close, but his effort fell just wide of the post.
Alty had a penalty appeal eight minutes later after Hulme was clearly brought down by Oli Hawkins in the Portsmouth box, but referee Tom Nield waved away the frustrated Hulme’s protests.
Portsmouth fired another warning sign inside the 25th minute, this time Ellis Harrison striding towards goal before unleashing a powerful strike that collided back off the post before being cleared from danger.
Some well created link-up play between Jake Moult and Johnston was almost rewarded with a goal not long after, but delivery from Johnston was slightly too high for the trio of Alty players in the box as the ball narrowly evaded their heads.
A minute before the half time whistle saw Altrincham create their best chance of the half. Whilst sprinting towards goal, Johnston was dispossessed by Curtis who in turn lost his footing, leaving the ball behind for Hulme to snap up and unleash a shot that rebounded off the post and away from goal.
A brilliant save from Thompson at full stretch denied the home side from going into the break with a one goal advantage. A perfectly weighted cross from Hawkins found the head of Harrison but the Altrincham shot stopper showed great speed and agility to quickly get down and prevent the ball from going into the back of the net.
The Robins started the second half as how they ended the first. Energetic and dangerous on the attack, they looked the far better side. Two early long-range efforts from Moult and Sean Williams marginally missed the target as Altrincham came out all guns blazing.
But it was Portsmouth who took the lead, against the run of play, following a well taken volley from Close. Sean Densmore couldn’t quite get enough power behind his headed clearance as the ball fell perfectly for Close to strike into the top right corner.
Pompey came close to doubling their lead shortly after but another piece of excellent goalkeeping from Thompson kept Alty's hopes alive. Showing great bravery, Thompson came rushing out to deny Harness who was one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
In the 82nd minute, Hulme was brought down in the box for a second time, and this time was rightfully awarded a penalty. Hancock stepped up to take the spot kick and drilled the ball underneath the diving Craig McGillivray to bring the scores level, sending all 622 travelling Alty fans into raptures.
Altrincham looked to protect their chance of a replay, switching to a more defensive style of play and brining on defenders Toby Mullarkey and Connor Hampson late on in the game.
However, a cruel last-minute goal from substitute Pitman saw Portsmouth finish the game off in the final minute of additional time. A Harrison header flicked on from a corner fell to Pitman at the back post who headed the ball past Thompson, a yard from goal.