'Sometimes I don’t know whether to cuddle them or strangle them': Danny Cowley admits Portsmouth frustration after dramatic Exeter success

Danny Cowley reflected on a dramatic triumph at Exeter and admitted: I don’t know whether to cuddle them or strangle them.

Saturday, 8th January 2022, 4:55 am

Certainly Exeter will be aggrieved, with Archie Collins’ 76th-minute strike seemingly handing them a richly-deserved victory.

After a bright first-half in which Pompey crucially failed to take their many goalscoring chances, Exeter upped their game after the break and were by far the better team.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Yet somehow Cowley’s men stole the win, with substitute Curtis netting twice to end a two-and-a-half month goal drought.

Cowley told The News: ‘That is probably a performance which reflects our team. Everything that’s good about it – and also everything that’s bad about it.

‘We managed to win it at the death, but nothing surprises me with this group.

‘I said to them in the dressing room, sometimes I don’t know whether to cuddle them or strangle them, that’s how they make me feel.

Danny Cowley admitted he didn't know 'whether to cuddle them or strangle them' after his players won 3-2 at Exeter in the Papa John's Trophy last night. Picture: Graham Hunt/ProSportsImages

‘They can take you to the heights and they can also take you to the depths – and that’s something that we’ve got to look at.

‘Our performance really reflects our attitude and I just thought there’s a really good lesson to take from Exeter.

‘We are pleased we won and pleased with the spirit shown. You have to show a lot of spirit and a lot of resilience to come from behind to win at a place like Exeter.’

Pompey will now travel to Cambridge United on Tuesday (7pm) for the next round.

The winners will then travel to Rotherham for the quarter-finals in the week beginning January 24 as clubs scramble to make up for lost time.

Cowley added: ‘Against Exeter, I thought the first half we were excellent and had such control and rhythm, we had real dominance, created chances at will.

‘Unfortunately it wasn’t clinical, we lacked a ruthless edge in front of goal.

‘We then lost our way and that was incredibly disappointing after playing so well in the first half.

‘Then, probably on 80 minutes, we finally found a bit of intensity in our performance. That’s when we looked much more purposeful.

‘Ronan scored what really was a really important goal for him – and, typical of him, he then backed it up with another goal quite quickly afterwards.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

You can support our local team of expert Pompey writers by subscribing here for all the latest news from Fratton Park for 9p a day, thanks to our 30%-off transfer window deal.