It was a half-hour cameo that lifted the Fratton faithful.
But Paul Cook feels Jamal Lowe’s eye-catching attacking display off the bench actually served as a sad indictment on his Pompey side.
That’s after the Blues boss singled out the non-league starlet for special praise on a day to forget for the hosts.
Exeter emerged 1-0 winners at Fratton Park after David Wheeler’s 57th-minute strike proved the difference on the south coast.
But it wasn’t until Lowe’s introduction minutes later that Pompey ever looked like troubling Christy Pym in the visitors’ goal.
The 22-year-old substitute, signed earlier this month from National League South Hampton & Richmond, took the game by the scruff of the neck, embarking on a number of marauding runs to excite and awaken the home fans.
And while Lowe was ultimately unable to provide the equaliser for the home side, his injection of pace and attacking impetus helped set up a grandstand Fratton finish – and earn him the overwhelming fans’ vote as man of the match in The News’ online poll.
Cook said: ‘I’m never a manager who comes out and gives any players criticism.
‘But it took a young kid in Jamal Lowe to come off the bench and offer any kind of indication or enthusiasm we might get back in the game.
‘That’s very, very sad on me, my staff and the players that a young boy has to come off the bench to lift 17,000 Pompey fans.
‘I am disappointed.
‘I am disappointed and hurt that it takes a young lad coming out of non league to give us and the Fratton Park faithful a massive lift.
‘When he gets the ball you hear the buzz go around the ground – that speaks volumes for Jamal.
‘But I think that is a sad indictment on the rest of the squad.’
For Cook, defeat to Exeter proved yet another opportunity missed for the Blues in their League Two promotion push.
With third-placed Carlisle held 1-1 at home by Barnet, a win for Pompey would have seen them close the gap to the Cumbrians to just one point – with Cook’s team possessing a game in hand.
As it was, the Blues ended the weekend in fifth spot, having been overhauled by Luton, who beat Blackpool 2-0.
Cook added: ‘Saturday was a big opportunity to put people under pressure and we didn’t take it.
‘We seem to have the ability to get to this point quite regularly and not take that final step.
‘I feel that is within the DNA of this group of players, and as a group that is where we are at.’
– JEFF MARSHMAN