Pompey boss Cook bemoans keeper’s late intervention

Morecambe keeper Barry Roche celebrates his late equaliser Picture: Joe Pepler
Morecambe keeper Barry Roche celebrates his late equaliser Picture: Joe Pepler
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Shell-shocked Paul Cook revealed his Pompey pain following late heartbreak at the Globe Arena.

The Blues appeared to be heading for a crucial 1-0 League Two victory against Morecambe, courtesy of Gareth Evans’ seventh goal of the campaign on 40 minutes.

A deserved victory would have lifted Pompey into fourth spot – and cut the gap behind the automatic promotion spots to four points.

Instead, keeper Barry Roche was the unlikely hero for the Shrimps, after his headed leveller four minutes into time added on.

And for Cook it was tough to take from a game he was convinced his side deserved to win.

He said: ‘We have had a really painful week or so with Oxford and Bournemouth and now this one.

‘It’s not great for us, but that’s the way it is.

‘It’s sad, isn’t it? We didn’t deserve that, the character of the team was good and there was no ranting and raving at the players – they didn’t deserve that.

‘Ryan Fulton hasn’t had to make a save in the game until the last kick, that was it.

‘Neither keeper got worked, let’s have it right, it wasn’t a game where we dominated and were great. But it was always going to be a difficult night.

‘I felt we did enough to win the game but, unfortunately, we didn’t hold out.

‘It was hugely disappointing, but you have got to take it on the chin, that is the reality of it.

‘We are dead disappointed.

‘The games come thick and fast now and the reality is we have got to pick up more points if we want to go up.’

Pompey took the lead just before half-time through Evans – one of four changes to the side which lost to Bournemouth in the Cup on Saturday.

Striker Michael Smith was also handed a debut following his transfer deadline day arrival from Swindon.

Meanwhile, Cook surprisingly ditched his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation for a 4-4-2 system in an attempt to claim a victory that would have been vital for the Blues’ promotion hopes.

That consisted of only a third Pompey start for Kal Naismith, who assisted in the Evans’ opener.

As well as the goal, Adam Webster had a shot cleared off the line in the first half, while Ben Close’s left-wing corner struck the bar after the break.

But the manager wasn’t comfortable with the way his team had to play in their pursuit of victory.

He added: ‘It was a decent passage of play in the game for our goal but a difficult night for us.

‘Difficult for the conditions we had to play in and the way we don’t like playing, which was quite direct.

‘Still, the lads did enough to win the game and great credit to Morecambe and that little bit of inspiration from the keeper coming up.

‘Conditions were poor and the pitch was poor, but the reality of it is we drew.’