They remain in talks with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs over a deal which they hope will lead to action being dropped but if their appeal against the petition fails, they could be placed into liquidation.
In the meantime, Portsmouth may go into administration and incur a 10-point deduction, but that would at least allow the books to be audited and keep alive their hope that a new owner can be found.
And spirits around Fratton Park will be lifted by a performance of great character and persistence from Avram Grant's team.
They remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, seven points adrift of safety - but in football terms they are capable of avoiding relegation to the Championship.
Given the off-field turmoil that has surrounded the club, it was hardly surprising that they got off to a nervy and disorganised start.
Furious Grant attacks ref decisions
Portsmouth had won only one of their previous nine league games and it was easy to see why when Papa Bouba Diop failed to clear a long pass forward and Rocha inadvertently clipped Bent's heels as he raced through on goal.
Confusion ensued as referee Kevin Friend wrongly showed Hassan Yebda the red card, but Rocha eventually owned up and was dismissed.
Bent stepped up to beat David James with a low strike that went in off the goalkeeper's right-hand post.
The home fans ensured any sense of dejection was swiftly banished by raising the roof in support of their team and Pompey responded magnificently.
Dindane was denied by the legs of Craig Gordon, Jamie O'Hara almost went through on goal and Diop lashed into the side-netting from an acute angle.
Pompey felt they should have had a penalty just before half-time when Dindane was hauled down by George McCartney and Grant was so incensed that his protestations at the interval led to him being ordered to the stands.
Bruce angry at Sunderland 'stupidity'
Sunderland came into the game in no form of their own - winless in their previous 11 league games and without an away victory since the opening day - and they were struggling to keep pace with the hosts.
Strikers Dindane and Frederic Piquionne were proving increasingly problematic to the visitors and Pompey appealed for another penalty when McCartney appeared to trip Piquionne as he bore down on goal.
By that stage Cattermole had been given his marching orders for nasty-looking fouls on Dindane and Angelos Basinas but, in a rare attack, Sunderland almost doubled their lead when Kilgallon thundered a left-footed volley against the post.
Jones almost connected with a Bent cross-cum-shot but, otherwise, it was all Portsmouth and they even had a numerical advantage after substitute Meyler was sent off for an elbow on Steve Finnan.
Grant's men skilfully engineered a number of openings late on and Piquionne headed wide from a glorious position.
Finally, however, Pompey's pressure told as the tireless Dindane nodded in at the back post from O'Hara's enticing deep centre.
Portsmouth manager Avram Grant: "In the last 10 days too many decisions have gone against us.
"Against Manchester City there was a clear penalty and a goal from offside. Against Fulham there was a clear offside against Bobby Zamora.
"Against Manchester United it was 1-0 and there was no penalty when (Patrice) Evra used two hands.
"Against Sunderland, two clear penalties against us. I can fight against everything but sometimes it is too much. Maybe it is too easy to do things against us."
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce: "Our own stupidity, two rash challenges, have cost us the game. To go down to nine men when we're 1-0 up is not acceptable.
"They're young and genuine players and I hope they learn from it but they've badly let us down today.
"There's a huge frustration there over our lack of professionalism and discipline. To concede in the last 10 seconds is another kick in the teeth."
90:00+5:51 The official flags Kenwyne Jones offside. David James takes the direct free kick.
90:00+4:32 The assist for the goal came from Jamie O'Hara.
90:00+4:32 GOAL - Aruna Dindane:Portsmouth 1 - 1 Sunderland Aruna Dindane grabs a headed goal from close range. Portsmouth 1-1 Sunderland.
90:00+4:17 Short corner taken by Jamie O'Hara.
90:00+2:56 Phillip Bardsley gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tal Ben-Haim. Direct free kick taken by Nadir Belhadj.
90:00+1:39 Corner taken by Angelos Basinas, Kenwyne Jones makes a clearance. Jamie O'Hara takes a shot. Blocked by Phillip Bardsley.
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Angelos Basinas from the right by-line, clearance made by Kenwyne Jones.
90:00+1:26 Angelos Basinas takes a outswinging corner to the near post, clearance by Phillip Bardsley.
90:00+1:15 Frederic Piquionne takes a shot. Save by Craig Gordon.
88:14 Substitution Phillip Bardsley replaces Darren Bent.
88:14 Substitution Danny Webber comes on in place of Steve Finnan.
86:56 David James restarts play with the free kick.
86:56 Sent off David Meyler shown a red card.
86:48 Free kick awarded for a foul by David Meyler on Steve Finnan.
84:40 Substitution David Meyler replaces Andy Reid.
81:21 Headed effort from inside the area by Frederic Piquionne misses to the right of the goal.
80:00 George McCartney concedes a free kick for a foul on Aruna Dindane. Free kick crossed left-footed by Jamie O'Hara, clearance
made by Matthew Kilgallon.
79:42 Darren Bent is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by David James.
78:23 Effort on goal by Kenwyne Jones from long range goes harmlessly over the bar.
77:47 Substitution Nadir Belhadj on for Hassan Yebda.
75:51 Free kick awarded for a foul by Andy Reid on Frederic Piquionne. Direct free kick taken by Jamie O'Hara.
74:58 Substitution Nwankwo Kanu replaces Papa Bouba Diop.
74:50 The ball is crossed by Darren Bent.
72:28 Jamie O'Hara takes a shot. Craig Gordon makes a save.
70:14 Effort on goal by Hassan Yebda from just inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.
69:44 Inswinging corner taken by Jamie O'Hara from the right by-line, Kenwyne Jones makes a clearance.
67:04 The assistant referee signals for offside against Papa Bouba Diop. Craig Gordon takes the free kick.
66:18 Foul by George McCartney on Aruna Dindane, free kick awarded. Angelos Basinas takes the free kick.
65:27 Andy Reid takes the inswinging corner, Header from deep inside the penalty area by Michael Turner goes harmlessly over the
65:07 Matthew Kilgallon produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the area and hits the post.
64:43 Corner taken by Andy Reid, Marc Wilson manages to make a clearance.
64:30 Darren Bent takes a shot. Save made by David James.
63:26 Effort on goal by Angelos Basinas from long range goes over the crossbar.
62:21 Hassan Yebda gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Darren Bent. Free kick taken by George McCartney.
58:44 Jamie O'Hara takes a long range shot clearing the crossbar.
58:33 Boudewijn Zenden gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jamie O'Hara. Jamie O'Hara restarts play with the free
55:53 Free kick taken by Craig Gordon.
55:53 Booking Tal Ben-Haim receives a yellow card.
55:43 Kenwyne Jones fouled by Tal Ben-Haim, the ref awards a free kick.
55:11 Corner taken left-footed by Jamie O'Hara to the near post, Darren Bent manages to make a clearance.
53:01 Strike comes in from Jamie O'Hara from the free kick.
53:01 Sent off Red card for Lee Cattermole.
52:58 Angelos Basinas fouled by Lee Cattermole, the ref awards a free kick.
52:12 Lee Cattermole challenges Aruna Dindane unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Jamie O'Hara.
51:07 Foul by Jamie O'Hara on Lee Cattermole, free kick awarded. Lorik Cana takes the free kick.
47:25 Direct free kick taken by Tal Ben-Haim.
47:25 Booking The referee shows Lee Cattermole a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
47:20 Free kick awarded for a foul by Lee Cattermole on Aruna Dindane.
46:11 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Andy Reid, Marc Wilson makes a clearance.
45:20 Free kick awarded for a foul by Boudewijn Zenden on Steve Finnan. Direct free kick taken by David James.
45:01 The game restarts for the second half.
45:00+4:32 The match has reached half-time.
45:00+3:56 Free kick awarded for a foul by Lorik Cana on Aruna Dindane. Free kick taken by Jamie O'Hara.
45:00+2:52 David James makes a save.
45:00+2:52 Substitution (Sunderland) makes a substitution, with Boudewijn Zenden coming on for Steed Malbranque.
45:00+2:52 Corner taken left-footed by Andy Reid from the right by-line,
43:25 Tal Ben-Haim challenges Kenwyne Jones unfairly and gives away a free kick. Lorik Cana restarts play with the free kick.
41:41 The official flags Alan Hutton offside. Indirect free kick taken by David James.
39:29 Effort from deep inside the area by Papa Bouba Diop misses to the left of the target.
35:53 Michael Turner challenges Aruna Dindane unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Jamie O'Hara.
34:20 The referee blows for offside. Marc Wilson takes the indirect free kick.
32:16 Jamie O'Hara has an effort from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.
31:06 Header on goal by Darren Bent from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.
29:26 Craig Gordon takes the direct free kick.
29:26 Booking Booking for Aruna Dindane.
28:54 Inswinging corner taken by Jamie O'Hara, Craig Gordon fouled by Aruna Dindane, the ref awards a free kick.
28:20 George McCartney is caught offside. Free kick taken by David James.
27:32 Andy Reid challenges Hassan Yebda unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Hassan Yebda.
24:43 Darren Bent is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Tal Ben-Haim takes the indirect free kick.
24:09 Lee Cattermole takes a shot from deep inside the box clearing the bar.
22:59 Andy Reid crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Steve Finnan makes a clearance.
22:59 Booking Steve Finnan is booked.
22:38 Andy Reid fouled by Steve Finnan, the ref awards a free kick.
22:04 Corner taken by Jamie O'Hara from the right by-line played to the near post, Darren Bent manages to make a clearance.
21:50 Aruna Dindane takes a shot. Save by Craig Gordon.
20:45 Darren Bent challenges Papa Bouba Diop unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by David James.
19:26 The assistant referee flags for offside against Darren Bent. Hassan Yebda takes the indirect free kick.
18:11 Darren Bent gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Hassan Yebda. Direct free kick taken by Hassan Yebda.
14:29 Steed Malbranque takes a shot. Marc Wilson gets a block in.
13:20 Steed Malbranque fouled by Aruna Dindane, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Lee Cattermole.
11:19 GOAL - Darren Bent:Portsmouth 0 - 1 Sunderland Penalty taken right-footed by Darren Bent and scored. Portsmouth 0-1 Sunderland.
8:49 Sent off The referee red cards Ricardo Rocha for professional foul.
8:01 Foul by Ricardo Rocha on Darren Bent, Penalty awarded.
5:04 Aruna Dindane fouled by Matthew Kilgallon, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Jamie O'Hara.
4:03 Unfair challenge on Kenwyne Jones by Papa Bouba Diop results in a free kick. Andy Reid takes the direct free kick.
3:27 Frederic Piquionne concedes a free kick for a foul on Alan Hutton. Craig Gordon restarts play with the free kick.
2:29 Lorik Cana is penalised for a handball. Jamie O'Hara takes the free kick.
0:00 The match begins.
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