Cook: Pompey's perfect defensive display
For Paul Cook, it was the perfect demonstration of defending.
And gutsy Pompey’s second-half resilience helped seal a 1-0 Abbey Stadium victory.
Conor Chaplin was the match-winner with a 24th-minute header from Christian Burgess’ long pass into the box.
Just as crucial to the destination of the points was the Blues’ response to the 61st-minute dismissal of Amine Linganzi.
Burgess was absolutely magnificent as Cambridge United were comfortably held off at arm’s length for the win.
Shaun Derry’s side failed to produce a single shot on target in the final 29 minutes, such was the defensive dominance.
And following worrying rearguard performances of late, Pompey’s boss was delighted with their showing.
Cook said: ‘We can defend, honest to God!
‘The problem with us is in games we offer ourselves up, we don’t want to defend.
‘On Saturday they got challenged. If you look at the Notts County game last week they were not challenged.
‘If people want to see how you defend they should show clips of that second half – that is how you defend.
‘Our lines were not broken, we knew we had three midfielders and kept Gary Roberts on the pitch to play up front because we were confident we could defend the balls into the box – and the lads backed me up on that.
‘I think Cambridge are a really good side, they are going to be a test for everyone, but these are the type of places that as a club we have to make sure we try to win.
‘I have told the players enough now, enough of the sloppiness, we cannot keep saying positive things to our fans, we have got to give them something.
‘The last three away games have been Cambridge, Plymouth and Orient and they have gone home happy. We now need to make sure we have that effect at Fratton Park.
‘We have got to be on it so much that the supporters feel we are doing them the justice they deserve.
‘We work hard at our club, we are not trying to be clever and this week have worked that little bit harder on our values.
‘When there is a free-kick what lines do we take? Who is in the line? Who is aggressive? We have just reiterated it and on Saturday they did their job really well.’
Inevitably, it was Chaplin once again who provided the spark at the other end with a fifth goal in his past nine appearances.
Starting Pompey’s seventh league match in succession, the smallest player on the pitch rose between Cambridge’s central defenders to head home.
The necessity of the reshuffle prompted by Linganzi’s sending off saw Chaplin replaced by Noel Hunt in the 62nd minute. And both strikers impressed Cook.
He added: ‘That was a great goal, Conor is a predator, such a talented young lad.
‘I thought Noel Hunt was excellent when he came on, you can see what he gives you.
‘He’s such an intelligent guy – and Conor also deserves the plaudits.
‘We’ve worked on certain things and it was good for us to get that winning feeling again.’