Paul Cook praised the character, patience and quality of his side as Pompey came from behind to beat Cambridge United 3-1 and go top of League Two this afternoon.
Robbie Simpson put the U’s ahead early on in controversial circumstances, with the linesman’s offside flag overruled by referee Sebastian Stockbridge to the dismay of the visitors.
But the game changed on the half-time whistle with both sides leaving the field, as Cambridge captain Mark Roberts was sent off for clashing with Blues assistant boss Leam Richardson, who was also sent to the stands.
Pompey made their numerical advantage count on 67 minutes when Leon Legge diverted the ball into his own net under pressure from Matt Tubbs.
The striker, himself, then continued his impressive goalscoring record against the U’s, with two of his own – the first coming a minute after the Blues drew level.
And having coolly fired home from Gary Roberts’ perfect centre, the striker sealed the points late on after substitute Kal Naismith’s miscued cross rebounded back off the crossbar.
The only sour note for the visitors was Gareth Evans’ red card in stoppage-time for a lunging tackle on Elliott Omozusi.
Regardless, Cook was delighted with his side’s performance.
He said: ‘It was a good test for us at half-time because a patient, passing game that we can sometimes be criticised for certainly worked well today.
‘Our ball retention in the second half moved them about and we got deeper and deeper.
‘Great credit to Cambridge but they just got tired and then we were able to score goals by putting quality in the box – something that we haven’t done so well as of late.
‘But again it is a great learning curve for us – as a team we just keep going.
‘I keep telling our amazing supporters, who again were a credit to the club today, just keep believing in us and keep going.
‘We are going to have bad days but this is football – it is not a new game we have just made up in the last month or two.
‘Today was a good day, lets move on to Newport now and what that brings, that brings.
‘We will just keep going and at the end of the season, everyone’s league position will be where they deserve to finish.
‘We will be in whatever position we will be in and that will be because we have done our best.’