Andy Awford rued a sluggish start from his troops as Pompey went down to a 2-0 defeat at League Two leaders Burton.
Adam McGurk’s quick-fire strike after just 85 seconds of the clash at the Pirelli Stadium handed the home side the early advantage in the televised fixture.
And although the Blues bravely battled to cancel out the damage, particularly in the first half, their efforts came up just short as Lucas Akins added to Burton’s advantage with a well-struck shot 11 minutes after the break.
Awford praised his side for their commitment to rectify the situation but admitted the home team’s early opener proved decisive.
‘I wasn’t very happy obviously (with McGurk’s opener),’ said Awford.
‘You don’t want to concede, especially early.
‘It’s criminal to concede that early – it was a simple ball into the box.
‘We’ve got two defenders there and they’ve got one attacker.
‘That’s very disappointing and the difference between the two teams is they’ve been clinical in the box and we haven’t.
‘But I can’t fault the players’ efforts today.
‘The actual effort and endeavour that the players gave is what we expect.
‘They’ve given their absolute all for the shirt.
‘I’m not going to criticise anyone’s effort.’