Astep too far for Pompey – but Iain McInnes praised the endeavours of the players who came so close.
Peter Hartley’s stoppage-time winner ensured Plymouth will instead be competing at Wembley in the League Two play-off final.
It means the Blues will be in the bottom division of the Football League for a fourth season in a row.
The Pilgrims grew as the second half panned out last night at Home Park to deservedly claim an aggregate 3-2 success over an injury-hit Blues.
But Pompey’s chairman was full of praise for the commitment of the players who took the club to sixth place and the play-off semi-finals this season.
McInnes said: ‘I don’t think, if I am truthful, we were quite good enough to clinch the win.
‘But when you talk about what did we do to qualify to win, there was nothing left on the pitch by the players and they gave 100 per cent.
‘I have seen players distraught in the dressing room, I have seen staff, directors and coaches be distraught at not attaining what we all hoped to do, and if you want any more from a group of people then I am not sure what it could be.
‘The truth of the matter is we just haven’t quite been at it all season.
‘My assessment of it, and I hope Paul (Cook) would forgive me on this, is we have been the best team from box to box all season and actually not quite good enough in either box.’
Despite Pompey’s continued presence in League Two, McInnes believes there is still plenty to be positive about.
Although, ultimately, they have not succeeded in promotion once again.
He added: ‘As far as the club is concerned, we are in a better shape than we have ever been.
‘I don’t think you can keep harking back about how we saved the club, we are a bit beyond that now.
‘Next season the pressure gets greater and not easier and I think the board and the club have got to raise their game and deal with that.
‘We are already trying to address those areas in terms of team strengthening, commercial, improvements at the ground, adding to the training ground – and none of that changes on last night’s performance.’
– NEIL ALLEN