PAUL COOK warned sloppy defending is threatening to derail Pompey’s promotion charge.
The Blues boss delivered a message of concern to his troops over the goals which saw their unbeaten league away record end at Notts County.
There’s a pattern developing.Paul Cook
Pompey fell to a 2-1 defeat at Meadow Lane in an entertaining clash full of attacking intent from both sides.
Cook’s side again carved out more chances and had more of the ball against the Magpies.
But, after a campaign of defensive solidity, two goals which could have been prevented undid them – and the Blues boss knows that cannot continue.
Cook said: ‘We should have done better for both goals.
‘There’s a pattern developing.
‘The goal against Stevenage – a throw-in.
‘Then there is the free-kick given away, I’d prefer to stop it at source.
‘When people put the ball into the box like that. A lot of people at this level, it’s the best way they are going to score.
‘We have to be better at defending that.
‘It’s a free-kick so you can gauge the problem.
‘We either shouldn’t have conceded the free-kick, we should have headed it away or the keeper should have saved it.
‘It’s a multiple choice question and I’d probably tick all three boxes.
‘If we want to be promoted we need to win more games. But I have a belief we’ll do it.
‘I’d like to think there’s a long way to go yet.
‘We’ve been away to one of the favourites to get promoted and performed.
‘They know and we know. We haven’t got the result, but we know.’
Cook was content with much of Pompey’s attacking play, although that was mitigated by a solitary Caolan Lavery strike being the return.
The Scouser praised an opposition, and a 2,000-plus away following, who contributed to an entertaining spectacle.
Cook said: ‘We have to give our fans a pat on the back because they make games. Great credit to them, too.
‘Like I told the chairman when I came in – don’t expect it to happen overnight.
‘But we have to stay stronger together
‘Our players don’t leave anything on pitches.
‘We work hard and everyone can see that,
‘We had everyone up front at the end, but we know we need a bit more penetration going forward.
‘We broke lines and we got in, though.
‘We have to keep everyone sane
‘Credit to Plymouth and Oxford, who get away from us a bit. That’s the game.
‘There’s a lot of games to go. We feel we are going to get stronger.
‘We’ve had a defeat and we have to get on with it.’