Cook focused on Pompey promotion progress after ending Fratton rot

Paul Cook saluted stopping the Fratton Park rot '“ and targeted driving on with promotion aspirations.

Wednesday, 9th November 2016, 6:01 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:01 pm
Pompey boss Paul Cook

The Checkatrade Trophy visit of Bristol Rovers last night attracted the lowest post-war attendance in Fratton Park history.

But the majority of that 1,200 crowd were celebrating at the final whistle following Kal Naismith’s stunning 88th-minute winner.

Despite the lack of interest in the competition, the game did serve as a means of ending Pompey’s run of three successive home defeats.

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Cook recognised the importance of banishing that unwanted record ahead of Mansfield’s visit on Saturday.

The Blues are currently fifth in League Two – below Luton on goal difference and three points adrift of the automatic promotion spots.

And Cook is steadfastly focused on the league challenge ahead.

He said: ‘Last night’s result was important and great for confidence.

‘If you lose four games on the spin and go into Saturday’s game, that’s not good.

‘But I just want people not to outline the last week or two. We have played 15 games, we haven’t played four, we haven’t won two away and one at home, it is 15 league games.

‘The reality is we have a great opportunity this year, we are looking upwards and we want to take those strides forward now.

‘After two cup matches we go into the league campaign now. We have so much in front of us it is untrue, and what we can’t do is allow any type of negativity.

‘That is football today, but I prefer people just to say “That is how many league games you have played and we are fifth in the league, level on points with Luton”.

‘The expectancy here is huge, we have got to make sure we don’t get lost in that.

‘As manager I cannot get lost in that, the players can’t, no-one can, because as we go forward only time will dictate what will happen.

‘Wishing our results away will not do anyone any good.’

Last night Michael Smith missed a sixth-minute penalty for the Blues, while Luke James struck a post for the visitors at Fratton Park.

But as the match appeared to be heading for a goalless draw, Naismith intervened.

And the win keeps alive Pompey’s involvement in the competition.

Cook added: ‘It’s nice for everyone to be back playing, the minutes on the pitch does everyone the world of good.

‘It was a good game, games should be competitive, Saturday’s wasn’t, especially in the first half.

‘Bristol Rovers are an excellent side and on an excellent run with Darrell Clarke, they came with a decent team.

‘We have seen at times in our lads the nervousness in our play. We have to get away from that, we have to get the shackles off and become what I want us to be and what our supporters want us to be.

‘That will get us to where we want to go.’