Cook: Pompey need more goalless draws – but not on Saturday

Pompey striker Noel Hunt Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker Noel Hunt Picture: Joe Pepler
Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey must start grinding out the goalless draws.

Although Paul Cook has stressed that is not the outcome he is seeking from Saturday’s visit of Hartlepool.

The Blues boss is frustrated by his side’s inability to grab draws from tight games.

It’s a concern surrounding game management which he believes has already cost his team vital points.

Pompey have drawn four times in the league this season – losing another six.

It’s fewer defeats and more stalemates which Cook craves, as he strives to create an unbeaten run to lift his team into the automatic promotion spots.

And he believes his side requires a greater know-how to eke out more points.

He said: ‘The Hartlepool game now becomes a big match for us because a record of 11 wins in 21 games after Saturday would look better.

‘The points tally will be what it will be, but I’m always happier by not getting beat.

‘I am not asking for 0-0s, please, no-one think I am setting up for 0-0s. Yet I enjoy goalless draws, they are the massive points.

‘This season if we had drawn against Accrington, Notts County and Stevenage we would be on 37 points. A win against Hartlepool could then have put us in second.

‘They are the margins I look for, not the wins, the wins take care of themselves.

‘It’s those ones that have been our Achilles heel, shooting ourselves in the foot, and we have to show more mental toughness to not get beat.’

In the meantime, Pompey face a Hartlepool side who have lost their past three matches.

Craig Hignett’s side have shipped 11 goals during that spell, restricting them to 19th spot in the League Two table.

The occasion represents Fratton Park’s final match of 2016 – with the Blues afterwards embarking on a run of four fixtures in 11 days.

The temptation to change a winning side on Saturday can be resisted by Cook.

But he intends to utilise the talents of some of his fringe players during the festive period as Pompey seek the points.

He added: ‘People close to me know I will be quite cold and calculated with how I pick teams, I don’t just bow to pressure.

‘People call it stubborn, but if I didn’t have belief that will see me become a good manager then I will change as quickly as the next man.

‘Kal Naismith, Noel Hunt, Michael Smith and Milan Lalkovic are fringe players at the moment.

‘Yet they will play a part because when you look at lads in the team week in, week out it will always be difficult for any player to carry that over 46 games. Everyone needs support.

‘We are now getting to a stage of the season where our support should be huge for the players in the team.

‘We should have people that influence the game, you only have to look at Naismith coming on at Luton and Grimsby to see what impact that can have.’