Greg Halford admitted he should have been celebrating a hat-trick after grabbing Pompey’s equaliser in their 1-1 draw with Preston.
The on-loan Blues centre-back struck just past the hour mark after Preston’s dangerman Iain Hume had opened the scoring in the first half following an ill-advised attempt to play offside by the home defence.
The goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of Pompey, although they were denied an instant equaliser when David Cotterill’s header was chalked off in a marginal offside call.
But while Halford netted with a smart near-post header from Hayden Mullins’ corner, he knew that he had an even better opportunity just moments later as he again got on the end of another corner, only for goalkeeper Iain Turner to be well positioned to deal with it.
Halford explained: ‘I fancy myself on those corners and I managed to find myself a bit of space and I stuck it away.
‘But I should have had a second one straight afterwards – it was probably an easier chance as well.
‘I was glad to get on the scoresheet but disappointed we couldn’t get the win.
‘My goal wasn’t something from the training ground. Hayden didn’t actually know he was even taking the corners.
‘We definitely made hard work of it, though.
‘We could have seen the game off in the first 30 minutes just like at Reading but didn’t take any of our chances and we weren’t really good enough in the first half.
‘We picked it up in the second half a little bit and I had three good chances to score.
‘But we could have made it a lot easier for ourselves.’
Despite some fans expecting Pompey to breeze past Preston, it was never going to be easy, with Phil Brown’s men going into the game having won three of the previous four matches.
The visitors certainly didn’t look like relegation fodder, either, with the in-form Hume, in particular, a real handful for Pompey’s defenders with his constant movement.
Halford said: ‘We came in at half-time a bit deflated and you could probably see it straight after the goal.
‘We didn’t really deserve to be 1-0 down.
‘It was a tough game. Preston are fighting for their lives and they worked their socks off, so fair play to them.
‘You have to give them credit. Hume is a very good player and they did well.
‘We know we’ve dropped two points. With the position that Preston are in, they were there for the taking.
‘But we just seem to have lost a bit of momentum after the Reading defeat and we have to pick ourselves up quickly.’
Halford has also not given up on the play-offs, even though Pompey probably now need six-straight wins from their remaining matches.
He said: ‘We’re not giving it up but it’s a long shot now.
‘It’s not impossible that we can win all six games.
‘It will be tough and we can’t afford to drop any more points now but we will still be fighting until, mathematically, it can’t be done.’