Cook rues Pompey consistency and work ethic issues

Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey in the Community chief executive Clare Martin

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Familiar bad habits and what has developed into a familiar Fratton Park outcome.

For Cook, the commonplace has become infuriating.

People will always go on about formations and personnel, I don’t buy into that, I buy into work ethic and desire – and I think they were two qualities we were sadly lacking

Paul Cook

Wycombe became the latest side to win on the south coast, as the Blues suffered a third successive home defeat.

It ensured they were eliminated from the FA Cup at the first round stage by their League Two rivals.

There have been disappointing Fratton losses to Doncaster Rovers and Notts County of late, punctuated by defensive lapses.

Once again those concerns were on display – along with an abject opening 45 minutes.

The result was a 2-1 win for the Chairboys, sealed by Adebayo Akinfenwa’s headed winner six minutes from time.

The striker’s looping header cleared David Forde, who had left his line, to send Gareth Ainsworth’s side deservedly through to the second round.

And for awful Pompey, who were eliminated by Bournemouth at the fourth round stage last term, they failed at the first hurdle.

But old habits continue to die hard in the search for consistency.

Cook said: ‘You are playing a game in which I felt Wycombe had run out of ideas in terms of whether they were going to win the game – but unfortunately we have a habit of still conceding a goal.

‘It’s not a nice habit, we have problems at both ends of the pitch at the minute, for me it’s complacency and different stuff, but the players know, they are the first to know.

‘We have got to be better than that, for our fans we have to be better than that, we cannot keep taking them to the levels of Orient, Plymouth and Cambridge and then to that first-half performance, that is not right.

‘Some players had the opportunity to show supporters they should be in the team.

‘People will always go on about formations and personnel, I don’t buy into that, I buy into work ethic and desire – and I think they were two qualities we were sadly lacking.’

The sole moment of encouragement was provided by Gareth Evans netting a 47th minute goal, at the time a leveller.

The 28-year-old was restored to his favoured midfield role, having served Pompey’s previous 11 matches at right-back.

He replaced Carl Baker on the right of the attacking three, with Adam Buxton given a chance to impress at full-back.

Sure enough, Evans capitalised on his licence to roam further up the field by grabbing a first goal of the season.

Last term he netted 10 times during an impressive maiden Fratton Park campaign.

This season his presence in midfield had previously been seen only in the Capital One Cup and the Checkatrade Trophy.

But Cook revealed he was keen to give the former Fleetwood player an opportunity back in his more accustomed midfield role.

He added: ‘It was just to freshen Gareth up, he’s had a lot of games at right-back and he is not a right-back as such.

‘I just wanted to freshen him up and give him a little bit more of a forward role, just to keep him a little bit happy.’