Squad praised despite late Exeter disappointment
It was a performance that warranted a rare away victory for Pompey.
But Liam Sercombe’s strike in the final few seconds meant Exeter shared the spoils at St James Park.
Jake Jervis had given the Blues an early lead, finishing close range after Ricky Holmes’ free-kick was headed back across goal by Ben Chorley.
And they had chances to extend their advantage, with Ryan Taylor missing the best chance to secure the win late on.
Richie Barker was understandably disappointed with the final outcome, but was still full of praise for his side.
The Blues boss said: “We were 40 seconds away from an extra two points, which would obviously be massive for us.
“But I thought the attitude of the players was fantastic and it’s just a shame we couldn’t quite see the game out. I’m gutted because they did everything that we asked of them.
“It was another poacher’s goal from Jake and Ben did well at the far post to head the ball back to him.
“We probably had slightly more – and better – chances in the second half, which was good going up against that wind.
“So the result is tough to take, but that’s four away games without defeat and that’s a positive. We’re becoming more difficult to beat on the road.
“A few weeks ago we’d lost five in a row and now it’s two in nine, so we’re certainly moving in the right direction.”
Both sides did well to adapt to the conditions, with strong winds battering the players on a rain-soaked pitch.
Barker said: “It was never going to be a pretty game, although the ground staff did a fantastic job to get the game on.
“It was very similar to the Morecambe game in terms of how the wind affected things.”
Barker will now be sweating on the fitness of Joe Devera, who limped off injured late in the first half.
He said: “He got caught from the side and said he heard a big click in his knee. It was really sore, but I’ve spoken to him since and he feels a bit better.”