Pompey were left to rue the penalty that never was as they fell to defeat at Coventry.
Blues boss Michael Appleton believes Luke Varney’s ‘honesty’ meant he never earned a first-half spot-kick as his side went down 2-0 at the Ricoh Arena.
Varney was clipped by Sky Blues keeper Joe Murphy as he went clear but kept his footing before firing wide.
That saw a relieved Murphy pat the striker on the back as referee Geoff Eltringham continued with play.
Appleton felt that was a telling reaction from the former Scunthorpe man.
But the Pompey manager, who was furious with large parts of his team’s play, refused to see that as an excuse for defeat.
Appleton felt his too many players were lacklustre against the fellow strugglers.
And his men making the wrong decisions when well placed proved costly.
Appleton said: ‘It looked like he (Murphy) clipped him (Varney). He has clipped him.
‘Luke’s shown a bit too much honesty, I suppose.
‘When you get a pat on the back from the keeper, it’s a sign he knew he’d done something wrong.
‘It’s important to get the first goal and it could have been crucial.
‘We aren’t going to make excuses from that point of view.
‘I think we could and should have done more to go on to win the game.
‘It’s fair to say too many players were below par.
‘There were a lot of half chances in the game.
‘There were more possibilities than chances.
‘There were a lot of chances to break quickly in four versus three and three versus two situations.
‘We just picked the wrong pass or the wrong option.’