IAN Evatt looked back at his side’s first defeat since early October and admitted: “We let ourselves down!”

Portsmouth consolidated their place at the top of League One thanks to goals from Conor Shaughnessy and Kusini Yengi.

Wanderers had a big chance to open the scoring, which fell to top-scorer Dion Charles midway through the first half, but Evatt said the response thereafter was not good enough.

“We were disappointing,” he said. “I think in the first half we managed to wrestle some control and then the miss changes the game. It was a really bad one but we would always back him to score. It seemed to rock us a little bit.

“The set play just before half time, just before the corner there had been a clear foul on Randell (Wiliams) and I just don’t understand how that has not been given.

“We conceded at the worst possible time. And in the second half they put it right on our toes and we just didn’t deal with it. We lost faith and belief, played too direct. We wobbled and were out-fought, which is disappointing.”

Wanderers had won 11 of their previous 13 games in all competitions and had largely overcome criticism of their ability to handle the more physical and aggressive teams in League One.

Evatt said the performance at Fratton Park was a step backwards.

“We have let ourselves down,” he said. “It is not always going to be nice, teams are not always going to let you do what you want all the time. They are going to be aggressive, physical, they are going to put it on us, and we have to deal with it. We did in the first half for a period, the chance came and there were a couple of moments down the right but after that we never recovered.

Wanderers have back-to-back home games before Christmas and host Bristol Rovers this weekend.

A reaction, says Evatt, is now paramount.

“We have to go again – but the one thing I can say about this group of players is that they have always responded after a negative result or performance,” he said.

“I just felt like we had moved past this sort of performance, a lack of faith or belief, rocked by physicality, and it is disappointing we haven’t.

“We have been on a brilliant run but I don’t believe the players should lose games that way. I can deal with losing games our way. But here we were so safe, so direct at times, passing people into trouble. Some players didn’t want the ball in tight areas.

“I don’t think they outplayed us, they outfought us. They out-ran us, dominated second balls and first contacts but we lost a game playing their way and not ours.”