Kenny Jackett saluted Pompey’s comeback quality as they picked up a precious play-off point.
But the Blues boss warned his team can’t afford a repeat of the lethargy on display in the 3-3 draw at Rochdale.
A stoppage-time own goal from Matt Done rescued a draw at Spotland as Jackett’s men battled back from behind on three occasions on Saturday.
That keeps Pompey outside of the top six on goal difference with five games remaining.
Jackett admitted his team were second best against an improving Dale who are fighting for survival.
The boss took heart, though, from the resolve and character shown by his men.
But he underlined Pompey will have to up their game against play-off rivals Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.
Jackett said: ‘It was never going to be an easy game but our away form has been good.
‘They started at a good tempo and we were a yard down.
‘They were a yard sharper than us nearly all the way through the game. We never got on top of them.
‘We worked hard to get a point and scrapped it out when we weren’t at our best.
‘I do think this Saturday we will need our full energy and make sure we’re back to what we do – because it wasn’t quite there.
‘It’s about being at our maximum. Our effort and application was at our maximum but physically and mentally we weren’t as sharp as we have been. That told.
‘Maybe it was the emotions of the Easter period but they are excuses.
‘We want to be at our maximum all of the time but worked hard and got a point.
‘I don’t think we deserved anymore because Rochdale played well.
‘The subs helped us and gave us fresh energy. All three did that. We’re going to need that next week and the weeks coming.
‘We have a big week coming up and it’s great to be involved at the top of the table.
‘They’re games we should look forward to.
‘It’s a good point and we’ve come back three times. That shows character, quality and heart.’
Two more goals from Brett Pitman took his total for the season to 22 – and an outstanding return of seven in five games since returning from a hamstring injury.
Jackett feels Pompey have worked out how to get the best from their skipper.
He said: ‘Brett worked hard for his goals. It’s a good total from him.
‘We’re not bad now at finding him in the right areas, which is a big thing.
‘The service to him in the box and across the box from the widemen is good.
‘When you know where he’s going to be and you have a player like that in the box, you can almost put it in blind.
‘When Jamal Lowe’s going down either flank he’s good at putting it in with the confidence someone’s going to attack the ball. That’s a big thing.’