Jim Bentley believes Morecambe ran into promotion-chasing Pompey at a ‘good time’ last night as he got the better of close friend Paul Cook at the Globe Arena.
Bentley’s Shrimps side were 2-0 victors as the Blues left Lancashire pointless to continue their disappointing start to the campaign.
Successive draws with Carlisle and Crewe preceded last night’s defeat to leave Pompey in 20th spot, with two points bagged from a possible nine on offer.
And Bentley conceded he was happy to play the visitors before they had hit top form, with Morecambe’s manager adamant Cook’s men are the team to be shot at this term.
He said: ‘It was a good night for us.
‘We knew coming into the game it was a tough game but that Portsmouth hadn’t started the season particularly well, so it could be a good time for us to play them. It proved that way.
‘But I have got a lot of time for Paul Cook – he is a close friend of mine and I know all of the backroom staff very well.
‘Portsmouth are an excellent side – in my opinion they are the favourites to go up.
‘They have got great players.
‘I do really hope they get promoted because a club of that size and that stature shouldn’t be playing at this level.’
Bentley’s side reaped the rewards of a fast start at the Globe Arena as defender Ryan Edwards and Tom Barkhuizen netted inside the opening 20 minutes to put the hosts in the driving seat.
But they were indebted to a dogged display of defensive resilience in the second half, exemplified by inspired goalkeeper and man-of-the-match Barry Roche, to keep the Blues at bay.
‘We knew how Pompey play and that we would have to absorb a lot of pressure,’ said Bentley.
‘They move the ball around well – they are a very good possession-based side.
‘We have a young side and certainly a young backline – that will give us massive confidence in how we battled away, and to get a clean sheet against a side like Portsmouth is massive.
‘And once they did get through, on the occasions they did, they came up against a top goalkeeper.
‘Barry Roche is a mate of mine who I have kept in the team since I have been manager.
‘He showed last night what he is capable of – and when he was called upon he did his job.’
Bentley, though, remains convinced Pompey have the quality to secure promotion this time out.
He added: ‘I wouldn’t like to say we raised our game to play Pompey.
‘We want to go into every game with the same mentality.
‘But, as I say, they are a good footballing side and have got quality throughout them in Baker, Roberts and Lalkovic. I really do hope they get promoted this season.’