Steve Cotterill surveyed the end of Pompey’s magnificent seven-match unbeaten run and insisted: The best side lost.
The Blues suffered a 2-1 defeat at Bristol City last night through Albert Adomah’s opener and Greg Halford’s own goal.
Dave Kitson’s stoppage-time strike reduced the deficit at Ashton Gate.
The defeat brought a sudden halt to hopes of creating a string of club records – among them equalling the seven wins in a row Pompey set in the 2002-03 season.
But at least Jamie Ashdown broke the post-war record of league minutes without conceding a goal, extending it to a mammoth 636 minutes.
The Pompey keeper missed out on Peter Mellor’s seven-successive clean sheets, however,
That added up to a disappointing night for Pompey.
But Cotterill lauded his side’s display and was adamant they were the ones who deserved the three points on offer.
He said: ‘If we carry on playing like that we will certainly finish in the top half.
‘I thought it would have been obvious that we were the better side for long periods. I thought we dominated the ball and had them pinned in their half.
‘There won’t be many teams who come here and football them like we did.
‘We were better – but just didn’t stick the ball in the back of the net.
‘We were fitter and stronger, we passed the ball better.
‘The only thing we fell down on was they scored two and we’ve scored one.
‘That’s the only thing we fell down on.
‘All the other aspects of football I thought we were superb, absolutely superb.
‘I had no problems putting my head down last night other than I felt for them because they got beat.
‘I am really proud of them. I thought they were fantastic.’
The defeat was Pompey’s first in eight matches.
During that time they have lifted themselves clear of the relegation zone and ignited flickering hopes of reaching the end-of-season play-offs.
They currently stand nine points adrift with 10 games remaining.
Not that last night’s scoreline should check those aspirations in any way ahead of Middlesbrough’s visit to Fratton Park on Saturday.
And Cotterill revealed the spirit was still high as Pompey look to pull off the outstanding achievement of reaching the top half of the table.
‘I don’t need to pick them up after a performance like that,’ said Cotterill.
‘If we were rubbish there would be a lot to do – but we certainly weren’t.
‘It’s really tough to go to Ashton Gate and get a result. It has been for years, and last night was no different.
‘We had a couple of half chances we should have done better with and I would have liked to have got our goal five to 10 minutes earlier, for sure.
‘But I thought they were great. They were fantastic.’