Cheltenham Town’s Papa John’s Trophy run is over after Portsmouth won a second round tie at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium 3-0.
First half goals from Haji Mnoga and Jordy Hiwula put the visitors in a commanding lead, before Hiwula grabbed another in the second period.
Cheltenham’s opponents on the night qualified for the second round by finishing as runners up in Group A, behind West Ham United under-21s, and ahead of Colchester United and Southend United.
Pompey have a proud record in the competition having won it in 2019, and at some point this season they'll get the chance to defend the title again as they face up to Salford City in the delayed 2020 final.
They proved to be a stern test for a much changed Cheltenham team following a League Two win over Exeter City on Saturday. Michael Duff made eight changes with only Ben Tozer, Finn Azaz and Alfie May remaining in the starting side.
Having successfully navigated a way through the group stage of this season's competition as the only team out of all 64 entrants not to concede a goal, Cheltenham were rocked by an early Portsmouth goal as Mnoga broke the deadlock on the 15th minute.
After Ben Close looped the ball over the Cheltenham defence, Mnoga drifted inside the hosts’ box before striking low and beyond Scott Flinders from close range.
A second would come for Portsmouth after 30 minutes had past at the Jonny-Rocks. Hiwula the beneficiary of Alfie Stanley’s header back across the box following a cross from Cameron Pring from the left wing.
As Cheltenham welcomed fans back for a second time in four days, they were nearly treated to a sixth goal in that time as Andy Williams came closest to reducing Cheltenham’s deficit.
Dan Bowry, who made his fourth start in the Papa John’s Trophy, carved out Cheltenham’s best chance of the half as he cut the ball back for Williams, but his effort failed to hit the target.
Robins manger Duff elected to make two changes at half time by replacing Tozer and Alfie May for Matty Blair and George Lloyd.
Though changes to personnel and system wouldn’t prevent Portsmouth extending their lead further as Hiwula scored his second goal, five minutes after into the second period.
Bryn Morris found the former Coventry City man with space to run into the box, before duly converting past Flinders.
The Cheltenham stopper would soon prevent Hiwula a hat-trick as he made an acrobatic save to tip a header past the post.
First year scholar and 17-year-old Felix Miles made his debut for the Robins when he replaced Azaz with 15 minutes left to play.
Cheltenham will travel to the the Peninsula Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 15:00) as focus shifts back to League Two.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): S Flinders, D Bowry, B Tozer (G Lloyd ’45), L Freestone, T Sang, Chamberlain, F Azaz (F Miles ’76), E Chapman, A May (M Blair’ 45), R Reid, A Wiliams. Subs not used: J Griffiths, C Hussey, C Ebanks, M Jakeways
PORSTMOUTH (3-4-1-2): A Bass (Gk), P Downing, J Bolton, R Nicolaisen, H Mnoga, C Pring, B Close, B Morris, C Bell (G Storey ’61), A Stanley, J Hiwula. Subs not used: T Seymour (Gk), H Jewitt-White, S Jae Lee, H Brook, Kavanagh, H Rew.
REFEREE: Kevin Johnson. Assistants: John Flynn, Christopher Husband. Fourth Official: Christopher Kidd.