Neill Collins says Barnsley’s late 3-2 loss at Portsmouth was ‘as frustrating as it comes.’

The Reds led twice through Devante Cole and John McAtee but Pompey scored an 85th-minute penalty then won it soon after and secure both promotion and the title.

Barnsley are still fifth, four points clear in the top six and need three from the last two games for the play-offs.

Collins said: “That is as frustrating as it comes. It was difficult in terms of the atmosphere but I thought the players were fantastic. It’s a 3-2 defeat out of nothing.

“We were excellent but somehow contrived to end up on the end of a 3-2 defeat.

“We have had games when it felt like it was coming but it didn’t tonight .

“It’s about big moments and right now we’re not getting enough of them right.

“The best team on the night doesn’t always win. Portsmouth are the best team this season because they have handled those moments well all season.”

John McAtee conceded a penalty for the 2-2 goal. Collins said: “It looked like it was a penalty. I have watched it back. You make a tackle like that in the box and you give the referee a decision. Macca was outstanding, he scored a goal and could have had one or two more . That’s the ninth penalty we’ve given away this season. That’s part of the reason Portsmouth are celebrating the championship and we were also rans at one stage. The penalty gave them a lifeline because everyone was frustrated but that raised the roof.”

Devante Cole opened the scoring with his first goal in 14 matches.

Collins said: “He’s been in those positions, tonight he got the finishing touch. I was delighted for him. Him and John McAtee were outstanding and gave the defence such a tough night.”

The winner came from a corner, just like Reading’s opener on Saturday.

“In the Football League, you will always concede from set pieces but you need to minimise it as much as you can. We’ve done that but in the last couple of games it’s really hurt us. Both very similar goals and something we need to address quite quickly.”

Collins brought defender Jamie McCart on at 2-2, with the winner coming seconds later. Collins said: “We felt Bishop was starting to win aerial battles and Jamie is good at that. He was literally just on the field when the goal went in. We’re not one to point fingers. Everyone made mistakes in that game. Sometimes they get punished, sometimes they don’t.”

Conor Grant made his full debut. Collins said: “Conor did really really well. He’s been patient. It’s been difficult for him maybe not getting what he deserved. The game really suited him an it was a big positive. He was excellent.”

Grant added: “We’re massively frustrated. We were brilliant for 80 minutes. To lose it like that is tough.

“You see them all celebrating – that’s the nights you play football for. Fingers crossed we can get some results in the next two games then win the play-offs. That’s our aim.”

Collins said midfielders Jon Russell an Luca Connell possibly could return from injury on Saturday.