Cook: Pompey need away clean sheet ingredient at Fratton

Another away trip, another shut out, now Paul Cook is striving to introduce that missing clean sheet ingredient to Fratton Park.

Tuesday, 13th December 2016, 9:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:37 pm
Matt Clarke keeps a close eye on Grimsby striker Omar Bogle during Saturday's game at Blundell Park Picture: Joe Pepler

Saturday’s Kal Naismith-inspired triumph kept the Blues in touch with League Two’s top three as they maintain a promotion interest.

Last year’s impressive form on their travels has been rediscovered, with Pompey unbeaten in six matches since September.

Underpinning those consistently-positive results have been a return of five away clean sheets during 11 league outings so far.

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Compare that to three registered on home turf and it is clear such disproportionate figures are impacting upon Cook’s side.

Mansfield represent the only league clean sheet at Fratton Park since September 3 – and even then the Stags finished the fixture with nine men.

A struggling Hartlepool team stinging from a 5-0 home thumping by Cambridge United visit the south coast on Saturday.

And Cook wants a slice of that away-day defensive resilience.

He said: ‘I can’t remember our last defeat away, while at Grimsby it was another clean sheet.

‘Now we’ve got to show that mentality at Fratton Park, we’ve got to learn to win ugly.

‘We might be able to keep a clean sheet at Fratton Park soon – you never know!

‘We seem to be able to do it away from home and, when this group is challenged, they stand up. We’ve got to make sure we stand up when we’re not challenged as much in a game.

‘We were excellent in the first half against Grimsby, one of our best performances for a bit, and that’s what we’ve got to learn from.

‘We have to learn that when we haven’t taken the lead at home not to be disappointed to draw 0-0.

‘If we could have drawn 0-0 with Notts County, Stevenage and Doncaster, we might find ourselves in a loftier league position.

‘Every Pompey fan knows we’ve got to improve at home, they don’t need me to tell them. Those games become massive for us.’

Pompey’s away record eclipsed their home results last season, earning four more points.

They also lost six times in the league at Fratton Park – compared to four occasions on their travels.

The start of the current campaign saw Cook’s men reap 13 points from a possible 15 on home turf.

However, they now have collected three defeats in four from Fratton league matches during a period in which the away form has picked up considerably.

And Cook remains delighted with the consistency demonstrated while on the road in League Two.

He added: ‘Dominating against the good sides is becoming how we play.

‘I think it’s pleasing to our fans to see that happen when we come away, these are tough places to go to.

‘On Saturday, in the first half we controlled the game, and you’ve got to score in those moments. If you don’t score in those moments, make sure you don’t get beat.’