Boss Ian Evatt felt his side had been out-fought at Fratton Park as Wanderers were beaten by Portsmouth in their top-of-the-table clash, writes Pete Oliver.
Evatt’s men lost for the first time in 12 games as Pompey powered to a 2-0 victory that took them six points clear at the head of League One.
The Whites should have gone in front through top scorer Dion Charles but missed the chance to take a lead and threaten Portsmouth with only a second league defeat of the campaign.
And once the league leaders had grabbed the opening goal from a corner in first-half stoppage time, they comfortably kept Wanderers at bay before wrapping up the points with a late second.
“It was disappointing,” admitted Evatt on the back of only a second away defeat of the campaign. “We spoke about if we're going to lose games, lose them our way and that wasn't our way. It lacked belief, it lacked bravery, it lacked physicality, it lacked energy and for us that's not okay. That's not acceptable.
“After a slow, sloppy start we wrestled some control and had that massive chance and, in these games, moments change game. Goals change games and to miss that seemed to sap everyone's energy, not just Dion’s.
“He's allowed to miss chances and we’ll support him and back him to score again but it just seemed to drain the lads of energy and confidence and we never recovered.
“I thought it was a clear foul on Randell (Williams) in the build-up to the corner and then it was really poor marking from a set-play, which isn't like us. It was a frustrating goal at the complete worst time for us and in the second half we just didn't recover.
“The frustrating thing for me is I don't think we were outplayed. We were out-fought and that's disappointing.”
Wanderers remain second in the table – level on points with Stevenage who have played two games more.
And the Whites will now be looking to respond to an uncharacteristically unconvincing display in back-to-back home games before Christmas against Bristol Rovers and Leyton Orient to remain in the automatic promotion places.
“I thought we had moved past this type of performance but clearly we haven't and clearly we need to speak about it and work harder,” Evatt told Wanderers TV.
“I said before the game this was three points and not the be-all and end-all. We have a game in hand and if we win that we're only three points away from them. We have already bridged that gap earlier on this season and can do it again, but we need to learn from tonight and learn quickly.
“We're not going to just brush that under the carpet. We're going to speak about it and we're going to learn from it and we need to learn the hard way because for us that's under-performing.
“That was us way below par tonight and we need to get back to the levels I know they can get to. This group of players has raised the bar and raised the standards and, as we've said before, when they dip below those standards we'll call them out on it and tonight we’ve dipped below.
“But the one thing I can say about the players is they have always responded when they have had a negative result or performance. That’s all we can do now.”