Matt Taylor pointed to his players’ efforts as Bristol Rovers became the first home team to beat Portsmouth in League One this season.
Paddy Lane equalised for Pompey in the 76th minute after Antony Evans had curled in an exquisite free-kick 10 minutes earlier for the hosts, but Rovers’ Luke Thomas struck four minutes into added time for a winner.
Taylor believes that Portsmouth will ultimately be promoted this year but, after overseeing a win at Bolton 10 days ago and now winning his first league game at the Memorial Stadium, the former centre-back says his team must go for it if they want to get into the promotion play-off picture themselves.
“It was emotional at the end,” said Taylor who picked up a yellow card for his exuberant touchline celebrations following winger Thomas’ late goal.
“I thought the lads got what they deserved and I was so pleased with the effort they put in and the fact that they got more to show for it than they might have got at the end – certainly their [Portsmouth’s] goal seemed to come out of nothing, maybe a mistake in the middle of the park from ourselves and suddenly it’s 1-1.”
A fiery encounter saw 11 yellow cards handed out to both teams and Taylor said that central defender Sean Raggett could have seen red for one bad tackle on Rovers’ Aaron Collins.
“It was a passionate game and exactly what you want to see on Boxing Day,” he added.
“I thought they got after [winger] Thomas – it was almost like they took off one left back who got booked and put another on to do the same – I’m so glad for him that he kept on going and was in the right place at the right time to win us the game.”
Portsmouth head coach John Mousinho said his team must be more clinical after his substitutes Christian Saydee and Kusini Yengi missed good opportunities to grab late goals themselves.
“The shape change gave us momentum and got our attacking players doing the right things and we got back in the game deservedly and looked the team more likely to win,” he said.
“I thought a winner was coming [for Portsmouth]. We had a couple of goalmouth scrambles and good chances and got ourselves into a good position but Christian dragged his shot just wide. We have to got to do better in those areas.
“These games are tough. Sometimes these games are tight for 60-70 minutes and you don’t create a significant amount and players get tired…the state of the game changes and those are the times we have to be a lot better.”