Cook hopes to have solved Pompey set-piece woes

Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey celebrated Brett Pitman's opening goal against AFC Wimbledon earlier this season

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Paul Cook hopes to have finally eradicated Pompey’s set-piece woes.

But the Blues boss knows defensively they still require tightening up to collect those elusive clean sheets.

Goals conceded from set-pieces have been a frustrating aspect of Pompey’s performances this season.

Most recently against Cambridge United, Luke Berry finished from close range after Mark Roberts had headed a free-kick back across goal.

At Barnet it was a John Akinde penalty, while Francois Zoko netted for Yeovil following a corner.

Yet Ollie Watkins’ last-gasp leveller for Exeter on Tuesday night came from open play, with Pompey defending poorly.

Cook, though, is hopeful at last their dead-ball inadequacies are behind them.

He said: ‘At Exeter it came from open play, which is unusual for us. Almost every goal we concede at the minute is a set-piece.

‘Penalty, free-kick, corner, it has kept happening.

‘There was a goal from open play against Bournemouth in the FA Cup, before that Jordan Bowery scored a great goal from the inside right for Oxford United.

‘But we have been conceding poor goals from set-pieces.

‘Against Cambridge, Gareth Evans gave away a free-kick.

‘Marc McNulty did the same at Ipswich away, there are too many of them. Free-kick then goal.

‘Stevenage was a throw-in, Carlisle was a wonder strike, but it was a goalkeeper from a corner at Morecambe, you couldn’t make it up.

‘I don’t remember many good goals.

‘Making mistakes leads to improvement and experience,

‘I’m just hoping we have now learnt.’