Coventry players mob Bell after his first-half opener at Fratton Park
Kevin-Prince Boateng headed home an inch-perfect Richard Hughes cross to earn struggling Portsmouth's unpaid Premier League stars a replay.
David Bell gave the Championship side an early lead with a 20-yard screamer inside a half-empty Fratton Park.
But Boateng rescued the home side, who should receive their December pay early next week, in first-half injury time.
Portsmouth could not find a second-half winner despite Coventry keeper Keiren Westwood withdrawing at the break.
Greek stopper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, who replaced the impressive Westwood, pulled off a number of saves to deny the top-flight side victory.
Portsmouth went into the clash without influential midfielder Jamie O'Hara, who watched from the stands after his loan deal from Tottenham expired.
Asmir Begovic continued to cover for injured goalkeeper David James, who is still struggling with a calf problem, while Nadir Belhadj, Kanu, Hassan Yebda and Aruna Dindane were all on African Cup of Nations duty.
But the cash-strapped home side started brightly, with Tommy Smith testing Westwood after only three minutes, and Portsmouth had enjoyed the majority of the first-half chances until Bell unleashed a precision right-foot shot low past Begovic.
With half an hour gone, Pompey redoubled their efforts to find a way past Westwood - and, despite several saves from the 25-year-old, they found a way through thanks to an excellent cross from Hughes.
His ball in from the left of the box gave Boateng the opportunity to nod home with ease, right on the brink of half-time.
That goal should have given Portsmouth some much-needed momentum, but Coventry looked more than capable of humbling the 2008 FA Cup winners as the game restarted, putting Avram Grant's side under increasing pressure as the second half wore on.
Clinton Morrison scuffed his shot over the bar five minutes after the break, before Sammy Clingan forced Begovic into a stop with a half-volley from 25 yards after 70 minutes.
Portsmouth did up the tempo in the latter stages but Konstantopoulos was inspired, parrying Boateng's strike from six yards, then producing a brilliant save at full stretch to keep out another, curling Boateng effort.
Pompey continued to edge the contest but the Sky Blues' back-up keeper made sure of the replay with excellent late stops from John Utaka and Smith.
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