Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton cut a disappointed figure as he reflected on his side’s second consecutive FA Cup third-round exit to League One rivals at Highbury Stadium.
READ MORE: Quickfire Pompey double sends Fleetwood out of FA Cup
Last season it was AFC Wimbledon who left the Fylde coast with the spoils at the same stage of the competition, then on Saturday Portsmouth sealed their passage into the fourth round after two goals in five second-half minutes handed the visitors their unassailable lead.
Conor McAleny grabbed a late consolation goal for the hosts but the Cod Army must wait at least another 12 months to reach round four for the first time.
Head coach Barton said: “At this level and against this quality of opposition, you can’t give teams a head start.
“I always fancied us if we’d stayed in the game to have the firepower to win it, but if you can’t deal with a routine corner into the box you won’t progress in the FA Cup.
“That’s football. You’ve got to take your chances, and without them creating too much either we’ve managed to concede two goals.
“It’s baffling but we’ve got to defend set-plays better.
“Kenny’s (Pompey boss Jackett) side pride themselves on things like that and you know what’s coming.
“They’re a big, physical unit and you know they’re going to examine you from set-plays.
“I thought we’d moved past that with our performance at Rotherham but clearly we need to have a look at it. The goalkeeper (Alex Cairns) has to do better.”
Pompey created the clearer chances in the opening period, with James Bolton and Andy Cannon going closest.
The hosts didn’t create their first opportunity until the 33rd minute, when Paddy Madden saw a powerful strike saved by Alex Bass.
Two close-range goals proved decisive as Bolton and John Marquis both profited from Town’s failure to defend corners.
Barton was pleased with the way his side competed but it wasn’t enough.
He added: “Of course we’re disappointed but we knew Pompey were a good side who will be expected to get promoted out of our division, certainly when you look at the budget they’ve got.
“We more than matched them, I thought. We created some good chances but were ultimately undone by two set-plays.
“Portsmouth beat us last year down there with a set-play, so obviously the lads were well versed and well coached ahead of this game, but you can’t legislate for people not doing their jobs unfortunately.
“Therefore we’re dumped out of the cup and it’s a tough pill to swallow because I think in open play it was a 50/50 game.
“I’m not really one for criticising individuals and I’m not about to start now, but we’ve got to do better with the two goals there.
“The players involved know exactly what’s required and you expect them to deliver, especially when you’re under pressure.
“Unfortunately for us today two individual errors cost us dearly.”
Barton is confident of sealing one loan signing ahead of the Leasing.com Trophy northern quarter-final tie at home to Accrington Stanley on Tuesday (7.45pm).