Paul Cook delighted with Pompey character

Kal Naismith gets a hug from Adam Buxton. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kal Naismith gets a hug from Adam Buxton. Picture: Joe Pepler
Brett Pitman. Picture: Joe Pepler

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PAUL COOK saluted the resolve of his players as they delivered a critical comeback win at Newport County.

Cook’s side battled back from two goals down to pick up a big three points from their Boxing Day trip to south Wales.

It was a success which could go to prove a landmark occasion in the season as the Blues looked to be out on their feet at Rodney Parade.

Josh Sheehan opened the scoring before Rhys Healey doubled the Exiles’ advantage six minutes after the restart.

It looked like being a bleak occasion which would see pressure heaped on Cook as they faced defeat to the bottom-of-the-table outfit.

But goals from Danny Rose and Enda Stevens turned the game around before Kal Naismith sparked celebrations with his winner three minutes from time.

Cook believes the result was an indicator of the character his side possesses.

The Blues boss felt the manner in which his team rolled up their sleeves on a quagmire pitch and fought back gave an insight into their strength.

Cook said: ‘We knew about the pitch, but our players keep going. That’s what they did.

‘The players showed their honesty. We had to release ourselves from the shackles of being a nearly team.

‘My players have done that and given the fans a day to enjoy.

‘We got what we deserved. To come in and get the three points from a difficult game is pleasing.

‘When people want to open up with us and have a game we will score goals. We are a freescoring team at our best.

‘The lads are delighted and we’re on a good run. If we’d beat Hartlepool we’d be sitting here on 40 points. You get what you deserve though.

‘I’ll be the same next week as last week in the pursuit of that success.

‘When we had to defend for the last five minutes I didn’t have a problem with it. We can defend.

‘I didn’t think Fordey really had a shot to save. We’re fine with it.

‘You can’t really play football on that pitch, but our lads did at times.

‘That goal from Rosey was quality play. I knew, across 90 minutes, we’d cause problems with our quality play – but we showed character as well.’

The gap to the top three is now five points ahead of Friday’s trip to Yeovil.

Cook withdrew Gary Roberts from the starting line up and changed to a 4-4-2 formation for the game.

The Blues boss has been reticent to play with two strikers but felt the occasion was right to do so. Tweaking how Pompey play is something he will now continue to do.

Cook said: ‘We’ll prepare game to game now. Our fans deserve it.

‘There will be games now where we tinker with our formation.

‘I will do everything possible to deliver for our fans – and that includes tinkering with our formations.’