Jason Pearce leaped to the defence of Dave Kitson after the striker’s costly red card.
The Blues forward was dismissed for a needless second yellow card before half-time in the 2-0 defeat at Barnsley leaving Pompey to battle for the whole of the second period a man light.
While Pearce – who captained the side – and boss Michael Appleton were quick to defend Kitson, having been booked already, there was simply no need to make that kind of challenge in that area of the pitch.
But Pearce did not point the finger of blame at his team-mate.
He said: ‘I think he was unlucky.
‘I thought at the time that he had just put his foot up to block the ball and the referee deemed it was a bookable offence so he had to go.
‘Once we went down to 10 men, I still thought we could have won the game.
‘We looked solid and it was a magnificent effort from the boys so it was disappointing to concede that late in the game.
‘We were unlucky to go down to 10 men in the first half and I thought the lads showed great fighting spirit, which is what you need in a relegation battle.
‘It was looking like it was going to be a 0-0 draw. They didn’t look like they were going to score and neither did we.
‘We have to stick together and we’ve got 15 cup finals coming up between now and the end of the season.’
Kitson will now miss this weekend’s home clash with Leeds and Appleton felt the referee had been influenced.
The manager said: ‘I thought it was a little bit harsh if I am honest.
‘I looked at it at half-time. It was a typical situation of Kits trying to stop the ball being played down the line and the lad has kicked the bottom of his foot. They can sometimes look worse than they are.
‘Looking at the referee’s reaction, he wasn’t going to do anything, until the crowd shouted and the players swarmed around him and as soon as that happened you knew he was going.
‘I think he (Kitson) was silly to put himself in a position where he could get booked again.
‘It has cost us, but when players aren’t being paid you can’t fine them that much.’