Paul Cook's warning to Ipswich players after disappointing return to Portsmouth

Paul Cook has demanded his players prove they’re good enough to represent Ipswich after they suffered a 2-1 defeat against Pompey.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 6:06 pm

And he insisted he’ll find the ‘men and character’ required if he’s left wanting in his request.

As the Blues celebrated their first win under new head coach Danny Cowley, Ipswich recorded a third defeat under Cook’s short tenure.

That saw them slip to ninth in the table and a point behind seventh-placed Pompey, whom they displaced from the play-off positions only last weekend.

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The visitors looked poised to add to the Fratton Park outfit’s recent woes when James Norwood handed them a 32nd-minute lead on the south coast.

However, his effort was soon cancelled out by a Tom Naylor header from a corner just before half-time, before Marcus Harness handed the hosts a much-needed victory with his match-winner 18 minutes from the end.

Cook felt his side were the better team prior to the Blues’ equaliser.

And he admitted disappointment in his side’s response as Pompey went on to record their first league win in six games.

Former Pompey boss Paul Cook, right, with Gary Roberts on their return to Fratton Park

Quoted by, Cook said: ‘I felt for 42 minutes, until Portsmouth equalised, that we were playing really well.

‘I thought we looked so much better than we have offered up away from home previously, I thought we played off our front foot, I thought we created chances, I thought we looked a threat.

‘And then we found ourselves at 1-1 sitting in the dressing room at half-time against a team that really hadn’t threatened anything.

‘And that’s the disappointing thing. There’s so much work to do, as people know, and our supporters will be so disappointed, but we’ve got to make sure now that we react to results.

‘It’s my job at the minute to find out about the players and the character of the players.

‘Like I just said to them in there, we’re a club of great structure and we’ve all got to make sure, myself included, that we’re good enough to be here because if we’re not good enough to be here, the reality is someone will take our place one day.’

Cook was angered by the nature of the Blues’ equaliser, with Naylor heading home from Ronan Curtis’ in-swinging corner.

He said the delivery into the box shouldn’t have been that hard to deal with, adding such failings would not be tolerated moving forward.

The former Pompey boss added: ‘With the greatest respect to coaching and managing, it’s not really that hard to defend, is it?

‘You’ve got to be aggressive, you’ve got to want to defend, but unfortunately at the minute we’re just in that little position as a group of people that we’re always waiting for someone else to be the one to do it.

‘That won’t be us going forward. We’ll make sure we have men and character in the team, something that’s just a little bit lacking at the minute.’