Boss quick to pull plug on criticism

Steve Cotterill keeps his Pompey players out on the pitch during the Fratton Park floodlight failures
Steve Cotterill keeps his Pompey players out on the pitch during the Fratton Park floodlight failures
Pompey's Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Steve Cotterill shrugged off the floodlight failure as the Pompey critics sharpened their knives again.

The lights went out, causing two lengthy stoppages in play in the second period of Pompey’s clash with Leeds, after a power cut affected the entire Fratton area in the city.

But after Pompey’s much-publicised financial problems, Cotterill was quick to dismiss any potential barbed comments aimed at the club for something that was beyond their control.

Cotterill said: ‘I’m sure that will make headlines now: The lights have gone out at Pompey.

‘But I tell you what, the lights are still burning at Pompey.

‘The lights might have gone out for 20 minutes – it could happen at any other ground in the country.

‘It happened in Portsmouth and we happened to be playing here.

‘If we had been away from home, nobody would have known about it.

‘But the whole world will know about it now.

‘It had no bearing on the result and no bearing on the performances from both teams.’

Cotterill decided to keep his players out on the pitch during the impromptu stoppages in a bid to avoid any muscle strains caused by the players cooling down.

He said: ‘It was a problem. We first thought about it when we thought there would be a five or 10 minute delay. Do you take the players in the dressing room?

‘The trouble is, if you take the players in the dressing room, they are going to stiffen up. So we kept them out there doing little warm-ups.’

David Nugent played the role of chief entertainer for the home fans during the stoppage as he fooled around in front of the Fratton end.

He both scored and missed while shooting at an empty goal, much to the delight of the home supporters.

Cotterill chuckled: ‘Even in the 10 minutes we stopped playing, Nugent ended up entertaining our fans – the dope!’

But the Blues boss was less than pleased with the referee’s immediate stoppage in play, with John Utaka set to go clean through on goal as the lights dimmed.

Perhaps, fortunately for the referee, Utaka poked his shot wide of the far post.

Cotterill said: ‘It would have kicked off massively if John Utaka had stuck that away.

‘The referee blew the whistle when he was through when the lights went.

‘How would they have got out of that one?’