Pompey have been warned they must learn how to grind out results – or forget about any promotion aspirations.
That is the verdict of Simon Ferry after the Blues let another away victory in League Two slip from their grasp.
Lindon Meikle’s 72nd minute goal cancelled out a Field Mill lead for Guy Whittingham’s men against Mansfield on Saturday and sealed a 2-2 draw.
Accrington also equalised late on to grab a 2-2 draw in Pompey’s previous match away from home.
Ferry knows what it takes for a side to get out of the bottom division, having won promotion with Swindon as champions in 2010-11.
And he believes continued failure to see out matches will bodycheck desires to progress up the League Two table.
He said: ‘The gaffer told us Mansfield were going to be like that and it lived up to it.
‘To get out of this division you need to work hard, it really is about that.
‘At home is where you play your football but sometimes you get games like Mansfield where it is about rolling your sleeves up.
‘It’s about grinding out the results, even the best footballing teams can do that.
‘People who challenge can grind out results, away from home especially.
‘In this division you do get some teams who want to play, then you get some like Mansfield and it is hard, it really is hard.
‘As a player you are used to football being played on the deck and when it goes over your head you do get a bit frustrated.
‘You are constantly trying to win second balls and headers but that is the lower division and you have to get used to it.
‘If you haven’t played in the league before it can catch you by surprise.
‘When I first played at this level it came as a bit of a shock to me and you think “this is a bit much” but as the weeks go on you get used to it.
‘At home you can play football better.
‘But places like Mansfield is where you need to roll your sleeves up.
‘If we want to do well this season it is something we have to start doing.’
The last time Mansfield lost a home match was January 12.
That run provided the backbone to last season’s campaign which would see them promoted back to the Football League.
But their very direct style of play and preference for long balls has come in for criticism.
Ferry added: ‘The last time I played Mansfield in the league it was exactly the same, it has not changed.
‘Mansfield like to get the ball in behind.
I don’t think on the ball they are as good as us but if they can turn us then they have more of a chance of getting in behind us.
‘Accrington were not as bad, although when I played there before a couple of years ago they did turn us behind.’