Boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink vented much of his frustration at a 'very inconsistent' refereeing performance after Northampton's 3-1 defeat to Portsmouth on Saturday, but he did not want to use that as an excuse for his side's collapse.
With 40 minutes on the clock, Town were leading 1-0 through Chris Long's clinical finish and seemed in little trouble at a frustration Fratton Park but three goals either side of half-time consigned Hasselbaink's men to a 14th defeat of the season, the second most in Sky Bet League One.
Not long after Long had finished off a slick move for the Cobblers, Matty Kennedy drilled in an equaliser before Oliver Hawkins scored in the moments before and after the break and from then on it was a question of how many Pompey wanted to score.
While disappointed with how his side folded, Hasselbaink was not best pleased with the referee's decision not to award Northampton a free-kick for what appeared a clear foul on Sam Hoskins just prior to Kennedy's leveller.
"I thought we started the game very well and played good football," said Hasselbaink, whose side are now five points from safety. "We had more of the game. They had the first chance that came from a second ball but I think we did well.
"In the wide areas we overloaded, we had two-on-ones and three-on-ones and in midfield we dominated and then we scored a brilliant goal, something we had worked on.
"But then the referee lost the game a little bit. We didn't get the free-kick. It's not an excuse - I'm just saying how the game was and we didn't get the free-kicks we needed to get.
"They scored after that and when you're not getting those free-kicks in our position, it's a hard one for us mentally and we couldn't sustain our play.
"You want to go into the dressing room 1-0 and if you go in 1-0 or even 1-1, you have a chance, but the second goal was a freak goal and well-taken by the boy and then we are well up against it. Confidence is low and you could see that in the second-half.
Elaborating further on the referee, Hasselbaink continued: "The players were unhappy with the decision and you have to play until the whistle but it didn't help how the referee performed today.
"He didn't help the game at all and I think he spoiled it - there were clear free-kicks and we got yellow card when Lewis McGugan stopped a counter-attack but they did the same and didn't get a yellow card.
"So he was very inconsistent. I don't want to make it about the referee but psychological it was hard for us to take at 1-1 at that point."