Michael Appleton admitted he resisted the temptation to lay into his players after a below-par first-half display against Shrewsbury.
Pompey won the League One clash 3-1 after the game burst into life in the second half.
But before goals from Wes Thomas and Izale McLeod (2) earned the Blues their fourth league win in five matches, the Fratton faithful were subjected to an opening 45 minutes to forget.
A squandered Thomas chance from close range on 13 minutes proved to be Pompey’s only real threat on goal as both teams went into the break goalless.
That left Appleton frustrated. But rather than dishing out the hairdryer treatment, the Blues boss revealed he opted for a calmer approach.
‘I was very close to giving them a rollicking,’ said Appleton.
‘A couple of the staff said I did very well to keep my temper.
‘If anything I went the complete opposite – and I was probably as calm as I’ve ever been over the past six weeks or so because I felt that I didn’t need to.
‘The players were angry enough for themselves, disappointed enough in themselves and were saying the right things going into the dressing room.’
The tactic worked as Pompey sailed into a 2-0 lead, before Marvin Morgan halved the deficit on the hour mark.
He was sent off, though, seconds later for two bookable offences, giving Pompey the initiative.
But Appleton admitted his side had to fight every inch to secure a victory that was only sealed by McLeod’s second goal of the day deep into injury-time.
‘If anything, the sending off probably gave them even more of a boost,’ said Appleton.
‘It gave the impetus back to them because they had nothing to lose then and they just threw everything at us.
‘But we definitely showed great character to get the win.’
– MARK MCMAHON