Cook: Patience behind defeating nine-man Stags

Noel Hunt celebrates his goal against Mansfield
Noel Hunt celebrates his goal against Mansfield
Michael Smith. Picture: Joe Pepler

Smith was poor at Pompey – but is bound to score against us

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Patience – the key to victory over Mansfield.

Handed the prized advantage of facing nine men with 16 minutes remaining, the goals didn’t initially flow for Pompey.

Eventually, three strikes in the final six minutes plus stoppage-time completed a 4-0 scoreline.

Yet before Noel Hunt struck the decisive second, there were nerves, there was anxiety and, of course, there were boos.

For Cook, last weekend’s match against the Stags should have been settled long before that tense finale which drew so much fan comment.

However, it took patience for the top scorers at home in all four divisions to finally achieve the breakthrough rightly demanded by all.

‘Most of our games are played on patience and dominating the ball,’ said Cook.

‘It’s when we come off that and give the ball away cheaply, sometimes we are very susceptible to teams scoring against us.

‘You are relatively pleased playing 10, then it goes down to nine and I’m highly delighted.

‘Then the reality sets in that we might draw the game and carnage starts to come in my head. Basically, if we draw we will absolutely get slaughtered.

‘You have to remember, during the game, Chaplin and Roberts had both missed chances to die for. And for anyone who is being logical, it was clear once we got the second goal – or if we got it – then there will be a lot more calmness in the stadium.

‘When you get down to nine men, people expect you to roll teams over.

‘Ultimately, rightly or wrongly, that is what the lads eventually did, but we had to be patient.

‘Mansfield had six lads across the 18-yard box and the other two were attacking, so we just wanted to open them up.

‘If you put the ball forward very quickly and early you might have played into the little strength they had left, because they had put everything they had into the game.

‘When Chaplin misses one-v-ones and Roberts misses from six yards, I am in their hands a little bit.

‘That might have made the afternoon a little easier, but you back your players.’

Pompey now head to struggling Cheltenham Town, seeking a third consecutive League Two victory.

Cook’s men currently reside four points off second spot in the table and three points behind third-placed Doncaster Rovers.