Pompey’s faint hopes of a late play-off surge were dealt a major blow as they crashed to a 2-0 defeat at Reading, with Ricardo Rocha also sent off to add to the misery.
The Blues made a promising start to the clash at the Madejski Stadium with Dave Kitson twice spurning excellent opportunities to put Steve Cotterill’s side ahead inside the first 20 minutes.
But Pompey fell behind on the half-hour mark as Shane Long’s effort from distance beat Jamie Ashdown when the Blues goalkeeper would have expected to keep it out.
Things got even worse for Pompey just seven minutes later as Brian Howard’s excellent pass found Long who was bearing down on goal, only for Rocha to bundle him over.
Referee Kevin Friend, who was the at the centre of some baffling decisions throughout the contest, pointed to the spot and showed the Portuguese defender a straight red card.
Long slotted home from the spot and Pompey faced a huge mountain to climb in the second period.
Unfortunately, the chances they created in the first half an hour failed to materialise after the break as the Royals were happy to sit back and play on the break while Pompey toiled for a way back into the contest that never came.
The defeat leaves Cotterill’s men needing something extra special from their remaining seven games to have any hope at all of that place in the top six.