Paul Cook praised Pompey’s display, despite suffering their first defeat of the league campaign.
Exeter duo David Wheeler and Arron Davies inflicted a 2-1 loss on the hosts, with substitute Gary Roberts grabbing a stoppage-time consolation.
Regardless of the scoreline, the Blues dominated, forcing the Grecians to defend for long, long periods as they attempted to preserve their Fratton Park advantage.
It was enough to topple Cook’s side off the top of the table, sending them slipping to third following a nine-match unbeaten start to the season.
Yet Pompey’s manager was pleased with their performance.
He said: ‘I thought we played well at times, I thought we’ve done all the things you want out of a team, I thought we’ve got in great areas, we’ve got enough crosses into the box, we’ve got in great situations.
‘But unfortunately we didn’t score that first goal which has become so important at home.
‘Tonight wasn’t our night, that is the way it is, we’ve had 10 games now. If someone offers you five wins, four draws and a defeat you would take that, albeit not in the manner of our home form but that is the way it is.
‘We will carry on playing from the back, at the end of the day that is football and we will keep going and doing our best. We haven’t done anything wrong in that game tonight.’