Pompey: Paul Cook’s delight at Reading player plaudits

Pompey boss Paul Cook   Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler
Dion Donohue. Picture: Colin Farmery

New boy’s bitter-sweet Pompey experience

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The praise and handshakes delivered by the jubilant Royals gave Paul Cook plenty to savour.

How the Championship side celebrated among themselves and with their fans following last night’s 2-1 Capital One Cup success.

Most of all, we are happy with their lads leaving saying “different class”. That is an international footballer telling us that, that is a measure of where we are at the minute

Paul Cook

Reading had fallen behind to Conor Chaplin’s stunning first-half strike before Nick Blackman levelled in the 64th minute.

It took substitute Garath McCleary to net six minutes from full-time to settle the contest and book the visitors a home tie against either Everton or Barnsley in the next round.

Irrespective, plaudits all round for the battling Blues, who had defeated Derby County in the previous round.

As for Cook, Royals right-back Chris Gunter was among the opposition players who shook his hand and sent his regards while conducting post-match interviews.

And the motives were deeply appreciated by the Blues boss.

He said: ‘Our supporters have had two great home games, I think they have really enjoyed it.

‘They have seen all our squad and that is great credit to everyone.

‘I think everyone went home slightly disappointed but a little bit happy about how we are playing the game and how we are approaching it.

‘We were up against a lot of international footballers on that pitch. Our fitness was good, there were the lads who haven’t played too much and I’m thinking about should I get Roberts on and stuff like that but I didn’t need to.

‘We had a plan and sometimes it is important we try to stick to it.

‘Most of all, we are happy with their lads leaving saying “different class”.

‘That is an international footballer telling us that, that is a measure of where we are at the minute.

‘Reading never really had a lot of attempts, the stats will be interesting, but they have a lot of good players and we must respect teams like that.There is a long way to go, a long, long way to go, but the signs are very good at the minute.

‘Reading celebrated and it meant a lot to them.

‘It wasn’t our night, it was Reading’s night, they are a good, strong club and I wish them well in the next round.’

Having won three and drawn two of his opening five matches as Pompey boss, last night represented a first defeat for Cook.

Yet he has made no secret of the fact promotion from League Two is his priority, also overriding next Tuesday’s trip to Exeter City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

And with a trip to Luton Town on Saturday, he admitted he was relieved last night’s Royals clash didn’t stretch into extra-time.

Cook added: ‘I was scared of it, I must admit.

‘I didn’t want extra-time with us also being away at Exeter next Tuesday.

‘It is quite obvious to everyone we want to concentrate on the league.’