Oxford United 1 Pompey 1: Paul Jones shows the way

Paul Jones contests an aerial battle at the Kassam Stadium. Picture: Joe Pepler
Paul Jones contests an aerial battle at the Kassam Stadium. Picture: Joe Pepler
Dion Donohue. Picture: Colin Farmery

New boy’s bitter-sweet Pompey experience

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Paul Jones’ Pompey return has been hailed as a motivation to his squad’s fringe players.

Jones came back into the first-team picture for Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Oxford United.

It’s an example of being in the squad, keeping your head down and taking a chance when it comes along.

Paul Cook

The keeper made his first league start of the campaign in the absence of Brian Murphy.

And the 29-year-old produced an impressive performance which was key to his side keeping up their unbeaten league record.

Jones kept out Danny Hylton in the first half and then made a fine one-on-one stop to deny Kemar Roofe on the stroke of half-time.

Paul Cook believes Jones’ return sends a message to his team-mates who haven’t been picking up playing time.

He said: ‘Jonesy was excellent and made two saves to keep us in the game. That’s what keepers are there for.

‘It’s an example of being in the squad, keeping your head down and taking a chance when it comes along.

‘Brian is injured and that gives Jonesy a chance. If he plays like he did he’ll be doing well.’

Cook sounded a warning to his Pompey side after they let the hosts take control after a positive start on Saturday.

The Blues found themselves under the cosh after a decent opening and could have easily gone in more than one goal down at the break.

But the Pompey manager took heart from his side remaining unbeaten against a team who look likely to be chasing promotion this season.

Cook said: ‘We get tired of being good and the game becomes too easy for us.

‘We get lackadaisical but we showed the character to come back into the game.

‘That’s a great credit but we have to start stronger.

‘We can’t give teams a leg up in games like we are.

‘But we’re unbeaten after eight games after playing Oxford, Luton and Plymouth away.

‘They are good sides with good players.

‘I think Oxford will be up there at the end of the season without a shadow of a doubt.’

Adam Barton caught the eye as he replaced Nigel Atangana at the break and was given his first meaningful league minutes.

Cook felt the midfielder, who played at centre-back against Exeter City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, showcased the effective passing he will offer his side this season.

He said: ‘That was Adam Barton’s competitive start – apart from the Exeter game. He has the ability to keep the ball.

‘He’s not match fit but some of his passing is sublime. He has great calmness.’

The likes of Ben Tollitt and Ben Close missed out on the squad and Cook feels that tells its own story.

He said: ‘I don’t what my best team is.

‘We have great players who aren’t playing. Ben has been outstanding and isn’t playing.

‘When these lads do come in they’ll be coming into a team who are going well.

‘We have a big squad at the minute.

‘Kal Naismiths, Adam Bartons and Danny Hollands.

‘We have quality and strength.’