Cook calls for Pompey to focus ahead rather than look behind

Paul Cook, right, says Pompey must not dwell on their disappointment. Picture: Joe Pepler
Paul Cook, right, says Pompey must not dwell on their disappointment. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Paul Cook has urged Pompey’s players not to dwell on their Stevenage heartbreak and focus on the path ahead.

The Blues appeared to have discovered a winning formula at Fratton Park as last night’s match entered five minutes of time added on.

Substitute Conor Chaplin’s fifth goal of the season arrived in the 77th minute as the hosts appeared set for a 1-0 triumph.

Then Charlie Lee’s long throw came in from the right and substitute Brett Williams netted a leveller with a looping header.

It was agony for Pompey, who were denied top spot in League Two by the late equaliser.

Instead they remain in second place as their league return stretches to one defeat in their opening 14 fixtures.

Next up are Mansfield at Fratton Park on Saturday – and Cook has called on his players to forget last night’s disappointment.

He said: ‘We gave a sloppy free-kick away, didn’t deal with it and then didn’t deal with the throw-in into the box.

‘That’s football, you have to get on with it and look to the next game.

‘The lads were very flat afterwards and we expected it to be like that, we have got a lot of good characters in the dressing room and they want to win so much for the fans and the big crowd in again – and they have disappointed them.

‘Naturally we are all going to be disappointed, but the reality of life is we have lost one game in 14.

‘If we lose one in the next 14 and we are all this disappointed then something is seriously wrong.

‘It was a good game. Stevenage have got some good players.

‘There were times – especially in the second half – they took control of the ball once or twice and that was disappointing.

‘I thought at times we played well, at times we didn’t and ended up drawing 1-1.

‘We played poorly at Newport and won.

‘We are not firing but are finding a way to get results so we will keep working our way on the training ground.

‘The quicker we get everyone playing well, the better.’

Pompey have now won only two of their seven Fratton Park league matches this season.

In contrast, over the same number of games they have reaped five victories on their travels, the latest at Rodney Parade last Saturday.

Last night was also only the second time Cook’s men had scored the first goal of a League Two match at home.

Regardless, they were pinned back and ended up having to accept a draw – and more dropped Fratton points.

With Oxford United defeating Plymouth last night, victory would have taken the Blues back to the top of the table

Instead the Pilgrims lead League Two, while Pompey continue their chase.

And Cook believes the club should be proud of their start to the campaign.

He added: ‘The reality is we have lost one league game in 14 all season, that’s the reality of it.

‘Our home form isn’t what we would all like it to be. Yet our away form is the best in the country.

‘One week we are doing really great and get applauded, the next we’re not.

‘It’s just disappointing. You feel the disappointment all around the stadium.’