Baker backing proves inspired Pompey call for Cook
Carl Baker's performance summed up Pompey's own in the 4-0 win over Mansfield Town on Saturday.
That’s the view of Blues boss Paul Cook who admitted he considered substituting the attacking midfielder before his stunning last-gasp double.
Having threatened to find the net in the first half with a mazy run that saw a fierce left-footed drive canon back off the post, Baker made a sloppy start to the second period.
A number of passes went unusually awry from the 30-year-old as the hosts stuttered to put their disadvantaged visitors – down to 10 and then nine men after the interval – to the sword.
But with the crowd’s frustrations growing, Cook elected to keep faith with the man he signed in the summer from MK Dons.
And it was a decision that was fully justified with Baker netting two brilliantly-taken goals with either foot late on in the victory.
Cook said: ‘Carl Baker’s performance probably summed us up.
‘There were spells in the game where if you are being truthful you are looking at bringing Carl off.
‘But I actually know with these lads – and all due respects to Bennett, Roberts, Baker and Lalkovic – the quality they have got.
‘And what I must do, especially when they are not playing so well, is back them.
‘None more so than Baker on Saturday by staying on the pitch and scoring the quality goals that he did.’
Cook acknowledged fans’ frustrations with the inconsistent display of Pompey’s two-goal hero.
But the Blues boss insisted his side’s passing philosophy is one that will always see flair players, such as Baker, lose possession in pursuit of an all-important cutting edge.
‘You see in the game that Carl can be frustrating and the crowd can get after Carl when we give a couple of passes away,’ said Cook.
‘But if we are trying to be a passing team that is what wil happen.
‘He finishes the game with two great goals and has now got six for the season.
‘And then you wonder what the problems are? ‘
Another summer signing on the scoresheet for the Blues was striker Noel Hunt.
The former Republic of Ireland international has had to be patient in his pursuit of match action but came off the bench to net his first goal for the club and earn the praise of his manager.
Cook added: ‘It’s great for Noel.
‘He is a great lad and a great character around the club.
‘He is a fantastic professional and also a good player and we’re very pleased for him.’
– JEFF MARSHMAN