Manager Michael Appleton was left bemoaning referee Trevor Kettle's decision to award Middlesbrough a controversial penalty after beleaguered Portsmouth ended a turbulent week with a 3-1 home defeat.
Greg Halford converted a Portsmouth penalty after Lukas Jutkiewicz handled to make it 2-1, and Boro had Australian Rhys Williams sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence. But it was Kettle's decision to penalise Ricardo Rocha for an apparent tug at a Middlesbrough corner that incensed Appleton.
"They don't get given up and down the country at any level, never mind at this level," he said. "He's probably the only one in the stadium that's seen it. I've seen it again. The lad's actually pulling Ricardo to the ground. Ricardo's reacted to it but their players don't even appeal for a penalty."
He added: "From our point of view, you have to keep the belief, no matter how hard you get knocked. If you get knocked down you've just got to keep picking yourself up.
"Again today there were a few contentious decisions out there which cost us. That's going to happen in the next 13 games though, there are going to be decisions that go for us and against us.
"I'm convinced that at some point that it will turn. I can go into the next seven games in March thinking that there is enough belief and enough ability to pick up some points."
Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray was delighted with the result in a charged Fratton Park atmosphere.
"I think any win is a pleasing win in this league," he said.
"Every game is tough and in the end it was more of an attritional game. There wasn't much football played for an hour or so.
"I haven't seen them back but they are two penalties that you might say are contentious, whether it was a tug and whether it was a handball I don't know."