Guy Whittingham has branded Pompey’s Chesterfield defeat his most frustrating day in management.
The Blues slipped to a late 2-0 loss to the League Two leaders having played almost an hour with 10 men following David Connolly’s dismissal.
Referee Steve Bratt earned himself few friends at Fratton Park in a controversial display which incensed fans, players and management.
The West Midlands official also turned down a brace of cast-iron penalty appeals.
And for Whittingham it was hard to take.
He said: ‘It’s not just the physical tiredness which killed the players, it’s all the hard work and getting nothing out of it.
‘Chesterfield have not really had a sniff.
‘This is a side which had got 10 points out of 12 but haven’t been able to break 10 men until the last five minutes.
‘I told the players they might have lost the game but they can take real pride out of that performance.
‘The way they battled for everything, the way they kept going – that will put them in good stead.
‘As a manager, for me, I think that was the most frustrated I have been.
‘You start the game really well and take it right to them.
‘And I think the way we started the game was fantastic.
‘Then you don’t get your rewards for it but football is a cruel game.
‘I went in to see the referee afterwards, it was a quiet conversation, there were no raised voices, I just said I thought he got it wrong – and he said it wasn’t for him.
‘He said he will look at the DVD and has given me his card to ring him today and we have both sat down on it.’