Cook pleased with Pompey defensive might

A 19th clean sheet of the League Two campaign for Pompey.

Monday, 1st May 2017, 9:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:01 pm
Defender Matt Clarke was lucky not to see red Picture: Joe Pepler

And for Paul Cook, another example of the Blues’ defensive might following their latest successful examination.

Pompey were out of sorts for Saturday’s trip to Field Mill, struggling to produce the form which has led them to promotion.

Put under pressure for long spells by play-off-hunting Mansfield, Carl Baker’s decisive 56th-minute goal even arrived against the run of play.

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Yet a rearguard in which Christian Burgess and David Forde, in particular, were outstanding, stood admirably firm throughout.

Not that it should surprise the Fratton faithful, who have watched Cook’s settled defence form the backbone for passage out of League Two.

They retain the best record in the division, with 39 goals conceded in 45 games.

And Saturday’s 1-0 win was another example of their defensive excellence.

Cook said: ‘It’s not like us to play like that, but fair play to Mansfield, it was a terrific game with a good edge.

‘We can defend, when we get put under pressure we can defend. It’s in transitions in a match when we attack and teams break on us quickly when we suffer.

‘You look back at Blackpool away, Morecambe’s second goal, Doncaster’s goal at their place, they are all the same goal and that has happened.

‘But when we are well set at the back we defend so well, as we did on Saturday.

‘Jack (Whatmough) came on and did well as he always does. We are lucky to have Tom Davies as well in terms of players at this club.

‘We had to go there and keep our professionalism, so all credit to our lads.’

There was controversy on 48 minutes, however, when Matt Clarke avoided being red carded.

The central defender was caught in possession by the Stags’ Danny Rose, who had only David Forde to beat in a clear run on goal.

Yet he was taken down by Clarke – only for referee Lee Swabey to punish him with a yellow for the foul.

Mansfield fans were incensed by the actions of the Devon official, with Cook in sympathy.

He added: ‘Matt’s got to go, the referee has got one wrong. That’s football.

‘It went for me on Saturday. If it goes against you, you feel sick, but we were fortuitous to get that, he should have been sent off.

‘When Matt Green put one over later on you also think it’s your day. Although, Kal Naismith has got to score, hasn’t he, after great play by Gary Roberts.

‘All-in-all, we won the match, which is fantastic.’