Michael Appleton felt that referee Kevin Friend played a pivotal role as Pompey went down to a 1-0 home loss to promotion-chasing West Ham.
The official, who was the subject of Avram Grant’s angry tirade during a clash with Sunderland, has got history with Pompey and did not exactly make himself Mr Popular among the home fans.
He awarded a penalty to the Hammers when Tal Ben Haim was adjudged to have grappled Winston Reid to the floor in the first half, which Mark Noble converted for the only goal of the game.
And Pompey’s hopes of a second-half fightback suffered a major blow when David Norris was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Reid.
The Blues boss said: ‘I thought the referee wasn’t strong enough. They (West Ham) had a few decisions that didn’t go for them just before then and their fans behind the goal got on his back.
‘But I didn’t think it was a sending off and I didn’t think it was a penalty either.
‘I was impressed with the way the players responded to that red card for the remainder of the match though.
‘West Ham are a good side and it was that much harder when you are down to 10 men.
‘Now we’ve got to move on quickly with two away matches coming up and bounce back as quickly as possible.’