Pompey made good on one of their few clear cut chances and that was enough to bring an end to United's five game unbeaten run.
The sides exchanged wayward efforts at the start of the game as Stacey went high at one end and Hollands blazed over at the other.
And the same happened again with Hollands when Stevens broke clear on the left flank following some good build up play. A half clearance sat nicely for the midfielder but his wild shot flew into the stands.
The hosts went close on 12 minutes when Davies took charge of a 28-yard free kick. He bent it over the wall but it bounced just the wrong side of the upright.
A flick from Wyke temporarily opened things up for Ellis, when he stayed forward for a set piece, but he had to wait an age for the ball to settle and he couldn't keep his attempt under control.
Things stayed tight in the middle of the park but a deflected cross from Stevens had the crowd interested as it spun into the air. Gillespie adjusted his feet and plucked it from beneath his bar.
Defender Mark Ellis had to brave midway through the half when Stevens burst through with the ball at his feet. He unleashed a crunching shot but a diving block protected the target.
Pompey turned defence into attack with a quick pass out which found McGurk in acres of space on the half way line. A step over opened a gap but Raynes did enough as the cross came in to stop Doyle and Smith from getting a touch.
Carlisle caused problems moments later when Hope played Grainger through with a deft touch. The initial cross was cleared, but Grainger took the long throw to keep the pressure on. A scramble followed from the slightest of flicks off Raynes but the home defence eventually swept it clear.
Kennedy dragged a shot from a tight angle wide as the sides continued to cancel each other out and it was honours even as the referee blew for half time.
The second half followed its theme of frustration for the home side in the early stages as Hollands screwed another attempt at a cross-shot high into the afternoon sky.
A better spell followed for Pompey, sparked by Burgess who went on a direct run down the right. His cross was dealt with but Roberts robbed Miller deep inside his own half and Gillespie had to race out to make a save. The corner came short to Bennett and his shot through legs also had to be dealt with by the keeper.
Good work from Hope preceded a fizzed cross from Grainger which flew across the face of goal as United went in search a response, but they were undone at the other end when Bennett dropped a shoulder and aimed a curler at the bottom corner. Gillespie got hands to it but Smith reacted quickly to sweep the parried ball into the waiting net.
The home side were lifted and Roberts should have done better when he suddenly found the ball at his feet on the edge of the area. He tried to pick his spot but sent it right at the keeper.
Portsmouth sprung forward in numbers from a Carlisle corner with ten minutes left to play and a pass from Bennett left McGurk with just Gillespie to beat. He managed that feat but his shot bounced back into play off the base of the post. Bennett followed up but his volley was right at the keeper. Smith then tried to bury it when he fizzed a shot through legs, but an outstretched hand palmed the ball away to safety.
The miss was almost punished immediately when Asamoah twisted to send the ball across the six yard line. Ibehre and Hope slid in but neither of them could get the touch that would have taken it into the empty net.
And Ibehre missed a great chance from 12 yards in time added on when a Grainger cross was nodded into his path. He chested it down then blazed it over with the keeper well and truly beaten.
Portsmouth - Smith (57)
Portsmouth - Stevens (44)
United - Raynes (73)
Portsmouth - Jones, Davies, Stevens, Burgess, McGurk (McNulty 89), Doyle, Roberts (Naismith 85), Clarke, Smith, Bennett (Evans 90), Hollands. Subs - Fulton, Webster, Chaplin, Close.
Carlisle United - Gillespie, Miller, Raynes, Ellis (Ibehre 77), Grainger, Joyce, Stacey (Gilliead 59), Comley (Asamoah 67), Kennedy, Hope, Wyke. Subs - Hanford, Atkinson, Sweeney, Ibehre, Gillesphey.
Referee - Mr Charles Breakspear
Attendance - 15,442 (361 away fans)