PORTSMOUTH boss Michael Appleton praised Millwall's hard-working strikers after the Lions' 1-0 win at Fratton Park.
Harry Kane's solitary strike after 37 minutes settled a tense encounter on the south coast, and Appleton admitted his side never recovered from going behind.
Defeat leaves Pompey, who are nine points from safety with just four games to go, on the verge of relegation to League One.
Appleton told the club's official site: "The goal was a killer blow. The first goal is so important in football and you can’t keep having to come from behind.
"In the second half the longer the game went on the more the confidence and energy drained out of the players. It was difficult to watch.
"A few of the players seemed to be fighting the ball rather than being at ease with it. We got into good areas of the pitch but then tended to over-hit and under-hit passes.
"But credit to Millwall – they play a very simple game with two banks of four and two men up front who work very hard. They do the basic side of the game well and made it very difficult for us.”