In an awful opening 18 minutes Pompey saw the opportunity for a Wembley reunion dashed.
Certainly in Guy Whittingham’s eyes his shell-shocked side lost at Newport during that wretched period at the start of the first half.
By the time Deji Oshilaja had joined Conor Washington on the scoresheet, the Blues were two goals down in the opening 18 minutes of last night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy encounter.
Washington grabbed a second in the 82nd minute, shrugging off the second-half sending off of skipper David Pipe in the process.
By then the match was already effectively over as a contest.
And Whittingham believes those 18 minutes were decisive.
He said: ‘It’s not too simplistic to say the game was lost after 18 minutes.
‘It was not lost as in the scoreline, but lost as in how it affected the opposition.
‘What a huge lift it gave them and you could see they had a real belief they could beat us.
‘The first goal was miscommunication between Bondz and Trevor Carson.
‘I am not going to pin blame on anybody but I would have thought the two of them would have handled it.
‘I would like to see it again, you couldn’t quite see it from where I was but it looked like Bondz was dealing with it and Trevor has come steaming out.
‘We are on the back foot straight away after having all the possession in the first couple of minutes – their first attack down the other end and that happens.
‘For the second goal, I was right behind it and the ball moved all over the place.
‘Trevor did well to beat it out and it has obviously fallen to their player.
‘Straight away you know it is an uphill battle and it is tough to get back in.’
Pompey showed an improvement after the break while David Connolly was introduced as a substitute to pep them up.
However, the hosts still ran out comfortable winners.
Whittingham added: ‘It took us 30 minutes before we started to play some football.
‘Don’t get me wrong, Newport are a decent side, they are higher in the league than us so it shows they are not a side you reckon you can come and thrash – but what you have got to do is be able to come and compete and that’s what we didn’t do.
‘There was a little bit of an improvement in the second half, they were down to 10 men and we tried to keep the ball and pass it around but nothing quite went for us.’
n Lewis Horsburgh netted the equaliser for a Pompey development side as they earned a 1-1 draw in a friendly clash at Brentford yesterday.
The Blues fielded two first-team squad members in John Sullivan and Ashley Harris, while they also ran the rule over Poole Town defender Will Spetch.
Brentford went ahead early on before Horsburgh outpaced the defence and rounded the Brentford keeper to equalise.
Academy boss Andy Awford said: ‘It was a good workout for us, we played some good stuff and responded well to going behind so early on.
‘John and Ashley showed a really good attitude.
‘Will did a solid job and we will continue to monitor him.’