Paul Cook has challenged his Pompey side to react better to disappointment – and defeat York.
The Blues slipped to a late loss to Plymouth on Saturday – a hammer blow to hopes of automatic promotion.
Up until Jamille Matt’s 84th-minute leveller, Pompey were in firm control and looking to add to Michael Smith’s first-half opener.
But once the Pilgrims striker headed home, the hosts lost their way and substitute Gregg Wylde was the match-winner two minutes later.
Cook believes failure to respond to the disappointment of conceding has affected the side on several occasions this season.
Now he has called for a winning reaction at relegation-bound York tonight (7.45pm)
‘We must teach our players to deal with disappointment,’ said Cook.
‘For example, when Plymouth equalised we should have been able to see the game out.
‘Maybe we don’t score again, yet we draw 1-1 and all leave Fratton Park sick.
‘But our natural reaction when we are hit is we hit back right away – and it is not the right way.
‘They must learn from this, our team must learn from disappointment and the effect an opposition goal has on the crowd at Fratton Park. Plus, the scoring team gets a massive injection of life.
‘When I put Conor Chaplin on for the last few minutes we were never going to score, more likely to concede because now we are reactive to what is going on rather than dictating.
‘We have got to make sure disappointment does not lead to future bad decisions in a game.
‘If you look at Plymouth’s second goal, it arrived in a space of a blink.
‘Very quickly we end up all over the place. Look at Bournemouth at home – once they equalise we are not in the game and end up losing. After the Morecambe keeper scored in stoppage-time we lost the next game against Leyton Orient.
‘On Saturday, what you have to ask yourself is could our players have given more? Not a chance.
‘But we have to cope with disappointment.’
Pompey are six points off the automatic promotion spots with a game in hand, yet matches are running out.
Tonight sees a full League Two fixture programme.
And Cook is convinced his players possess the character to keep up a promotion push.
He added: ‘I have no issue with the guys, I don’t think there is any need to speak about how we respond, the lads have performed all season.
‘They have represented the club well and will always continue to do so.
‘Our lads are as good as gold, they have great character.
‘Nobody should ever doubt our players, do not worry, there is character, willingness and desire.’