Paul Cook: Pompey so close to clicking

Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler

Carl Baker scores Pompey's winner against Mansfield Picture: Joe Pepler

Mansfield 0 Pompey 1 – Neil Allen’s match report

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For Paul Cook it is small margins, a hair’s breadth away from achieving his team goal.

The Blues sit fifth in League Two, with inconsistency again threatening to devastate their promotion aspirations.

There’s that little bit of magic missing, that little bit of steel and aggression at both ends of the pitch

Paul Cook

But for Pompey’s boss the solution is agonisingly close, the outcome supporters crave almost within reach.

Cook’s troops head to Cambridge United on Saturday striving to bounce back from the smash and grab inflicted by Notts County.

That 2-1 defeat once again highlighted defensive frailties which have become ever-more apparent.

Cook, though, is convinced his team are close to clicking into gear.

He said: ‘Sort the small margins out and the big margins will take care of themselves.

‘There’s that little bit of magic missing, that little bit of steel and aggression at both ends of the pitch – and that’s what we’ve worked on all week.

‘I thought in the first half against Notts County we were absolutely outstanding.

‘The standard of ball, movement off the ball, everything, yet we found ourselves at 1-1 half-time.

‘If you are in Notts County’s dressing room, what are you going to do when you come out for the second half? Play the same way?

‘Or are you going to try to stop the game? The fourth official put six minutes up, they could have put 26 minutes up for stoppages in that second half.

‘At half-time we should have been enjoying the first half because you cannot have the chances we had and not be in the lead.

‘On the flip side of that, you cannot concede the goals we concede.

‘There’s a little bit of a concentration thing with some of us, a little bit of a complacency with us, a little bit of something magic missing.

‘But I feel we are very close at the minute.’

Pompey face a Cambridge side with four wins from their past six matches.

And Cook is adamant his side have prepared correctly for the encounter.

He added: ‘They have worked hard all week on everything they should do.

‘Where do we defend the ball from the halfway line - the 18-yard box. Anything beyond your head is the goalkeeper’s. It is all simple, basic stuff.

‘On Tuesday they ran up and down the stands at Fratton Park. I swear to God, they couldn’t work harder than they are. They are giving this club everything – there’s just that little margin we need to correct.’

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