Paul Cook revealed the reasons for Matt Tubbs’ omission and admitted: He deserves the headlines.
Tubbs was the 90th-minute hero as Pompey delivered a 2-1 win at Luton on Saturday.
The striker was dropped to the bench for the clash at Kenilworth Road as Cook changed his starting 11 for the first time in the league.
Cook explained he felt Tubbs would be suited to entering the game late on to make an impact with Luton’s legs tiring.
And that was exactly how it worked out as he pounced on Elliot Justham’s parry from Conor Chaplin’s shot to grab the late goal – and spark jubilant celebrations among the away fans.
Cook feels Tubbs deserve the plaudits for a typical piece of predatory finishing.
He said: ‘Quite right that he gets the headlines.
‘Tubbsy gives that to us. That is Tubbsy’s trade.
‘He’s a presence in the box and anticipates things.
‘If the goal is correctly given against Crawley we’re sat here talking about him on three goals and what a great start it is.
‘I felt Tubbs had a better opportunity coming off the bench.
‘I thought the game would suit him better when it was stretched.
‘He hasn’t seen that kind of space in a game yet that he saw late on.
‘That’s what he does. He gets in there regularly.’
Tubbs was informed just before the game he wouldn’t be in the starting 11, but had some idea that would be the case in the build-up to the game.
Cook stressed there was no room for the player to be downbeat, however, with Pompey possessing a squad of 24 players who can all have an impact.
He said: ‘He can’t be disappointed. You can’t be with the squad that we have.
‘People are saying he should be playing or he should be playing.
‘So my job is to do my best to keep everyone happy.’
The way in which Tubbs pounced when Chaplin danced into the box and fired at goal was an insight into how he likes to play with support.
The striker operates best with a second striker alongside him, but Cook has made it clear he will predominantly use a 4-2-3-1 formation this season.
Cook said: ‘You can see why he gets goals along with another striker. Unfortunately that’s not a way I really like to play.
‘It’s not a criticism thing.
‘I just think that’s the way to play.
‘When we are away from home we enjoy watching us play now.
‘We’re not the perfect team but we’re doing well.’
The victory at Luton made it three wins and two draws for Pompey from their opening five games.
That leaves them well placed sat fourth in the League Two table, albeit at a formative stage of the season.
Cook is glad to give the Pompey fans something to celebrate on the road.
He said: ‘We’ve got a really good group at the minute who don’t half work hard.
‘The fans have not had too many great journeys, so we’ll let them enjoy it.
‘But we need to keep our feet on the ground.’
n Pompey Academy play in the Youth Alliance Cup at Oxford United tomorrow (11.30am).
Calvin Davies and Adam May both return after being rested for Saturday’s 4-1 win over Exeter City.