Cook backs Pompey firing squad

Paul Cook has backed the goals to keep flowing from his free-scoring squad.

Thursday, 23rd March 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:57 am
The Pompey players have been sharing the goals among them this season Picture: Joe Pepler

And he has reiterated his belief that a 20-goal-a-season striker is not a promotion necessity.

The Blues may have drawn a blank in last weekend’s defeat at Stevenage, yet missed a penalty and struck the bar twice.

With a squad possessing 18 different scorers so far this season, the goals have been shared around Cook’s troops.

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Of the side who lined up against Boro, the recalled Tom Davies was the only outfield player not to have netted this campaign.

No player has reached double figures, although Kal Naismith (nine), Conor Chaplin (eight), Gary Roberts (eight) and Carl Baker (seven) lead the way.

Only Doncaster, Stevenage and Exeter have scored more in League Two this season.

And Cook is delighted with the collective goal power at his disposal.

He said: ‘Do you think every other team has to put up with defences like we do? They don’t.

‘So it is always going to be a little harder for us to score goals.

‘Having said that, only three teams are above us in terms of goals scored.

‘We haven’t got a 20-goal-a-season man but have plenty of players who can score goals, which is important.

‘You only have to look at the last home game against Grimsby to see the assets we have on the pitch – and I am comfortable with that.

‘People often ask where the goals are going to come from, but when we play well everything looks easy.

‘When teams come and get everyone behind the ball, that’s when it is harder than everyone thinks.

‘I have never, ever felt we had to find a 20-goal-a-season striker.

‘There are goals from everywhere in this team, without shadow of a doubt.’

Pompey have scored 59 goals in 38 matches this term, with an additional nine coming from cup competitions.

Central-defender Christian Burgess has netted four times, while holding midfielder Danny Rose has five goals to his name.

Before injury, Kyle Bennett had registered in three successive matches to take his season’s tally to four.

Out-of-favour Michael Smith has six, with Curtis Main on five despite not having played since October.

Meanwhile, Enda Stevens, Jack Whatmough and Matt Clarke have this year recorded their maiden Pompey goals.

There is also the tale of seven missed penalties, with Chaplin’s the most recent.

Cook added: ‘We have a good squad and that’s a problem you get sometimes as a manager.

‘When it doesn’t work, the natural clamour is to play other people and I have never bought into that.

‘All over the pitch we look like we have flair players – and at our worst don’t look like a goal is in us.’