Steve Cotterill believes Pompey’s first-half display cost them victory over Preston.
The Blues effectively bid goodbye to their play-off hopes on Saturday after being held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by the Championship strugglers.
Iain Hume gave the visitors the lead in a first half which saw Pompey booed off by a section of their supporters.
Greg Halford headed home Hayden Mullins’ 62nd-minute corner to level matters in an improved showing after the break.
Nonetheless, it was a frustrating afternoon at Fratton Park.
And Cotterill admitted that first-half showing had not been good enough.
He said: ‘I think we deserved to win the game, for sure.
‘But the reason why we didn’t win the game was because of our first-half performance.
‘I thought we started okay, there was no problem.
‘But their goal irritated us and made us a little bit more anxious and a bit more uptight.
‘We could have done without that, really.
‘Had we got our noses in front I think we could have gone on and won the game comfortably.
‘In the first half we needed a bit more courage once they had scored the goal.
‘We had to get on the ball and pass it a little bit quicker, a little bit sharper.
‘If we had played in the first half like we did in the second and culminated in a 90-minute performance, we would have won the game.’
A defensive mistake by Aaron Mokoena allowed Preston to break the deadlock.
His misjudgement of the offside trap proved crucial, allowing Hume to break clear and score.
But Cotterill singled out central-defensive partner Halford for his display.
He viewed the on-loan Wolves man’s display as the best among his side.
Cotterill added: ‘We stepped up to play offside for the goal – and as a team we don’t step up and play offside.
‘We have gone and done that and that is an error by us.
‘That has cost us as it has ended up in the back of our net.
‘But I thought Greg was good again and rightly named our man of the match.
‘I also thought Hayden (Mullins) in the second half pushed him close.
‘But because Greg was involved in the game first half I would say that is probably why he got it.’