Danny Cowley was left frustrated as Portsmouth were held to a goalless draw at Crewe.
John Marquis saw his second-half spot kick saved by Alex keeper Will Jaaskelainen, while the striker, who was starting his first game since a three-game suspension, also missed a gilt-edged chance minutes before his miss from 12 yards.
“There were some good performances in the group, but we were frustrated as it was a game we wanted to win and on the balance of the play we probably should have won,” said Pompey boss Cowley.
“We did enough to win the game, but lacked a cutting edge in the final third. I liked a lot of our play tactically, but there is still some work to do on the players’ mentality.
“We were frustrated and the supporters will be frustrated. There’s a lot of work to be done in the final third.
“There were some good performances; Callum Johnson was excellent and Tom Naylor drove us up the pitch and covered every blade of grass.
“We missed the penalty, but that’s the life of a number nine and I thought John (Marquis) was excellent. He led the line and it was good to have him back.”
Marquis headed straight at Jaaskelainen with the goal at his mercy and then hit his 59th-minute penalty too close to the Crewe keeper.
After a dismal first half against a side hammered 6-0 at the weekend, Pompey were on top after the break but were far from convincing.
Jaaskelainen was at fault with the penalty award when he caught Ronan Curtis inside the box as the attacker latched onto Charlie Daniels’ long ball. But the keeper redeemed himself diving to his left to hold the spot kick.
The Finland Under-21 international also did well to palm a fierce strike from Curtis away.
Crewe boss Dave Artell, who made six changes after the thrashing by Oxford, said: “Other than their penalty I think we’ve had the better chances.
“You can be blinded by the fact Portsmouth controlled the tempo more that they were more likely to win it, but we had some great chances from Owen Dale and Chris Porter.
“We didn’t take them, but after Saturday any clean sheet is most welcome.
“I don’t think any Crewe fans can say that the lads didn’t show any grit, resilience or effort. They’re a given and a lot of that was missing on Saturday.
“It was back to basics and we played completely differently. Danny and Nicky (Cowley) are both on my Pro Licence course and I did a presentation about how we played a month ago, so they knew exactly how we played.
“So we had to do something different and at the final whistle they both said something which suggested we had outfoxed them a little.”