A PER­FECT DAY FOR ME - COOK

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Si­mon Smedley

PAUL Cook la­belled it a per­fect day af­ter his Portsmouth side cruised to a rip-roar­ing first open­ing-day win in nine years.

New-look Pom­pey de­stroyed the Dag­gers in the sec­ond half as sum­mer cap­ture Kyle Ben­nett lapped up a dream two-goal de­but.

Cook made a mas­sive de­ci­sion in the sum­mer when given the chance to switch from League One Ch­ester­field, but al­ready it’s look­ing like a wise one.

He said:“It’s been a per­fect day in the end. There were a few nerves around in the first-half, but it has been amaz­ing.

“What can you say about the sup­port here? It was just phe­nom­e­nal.

“It is early days still, of course, we’ve had a good day to­day but we have to keep our­selves fo­cused.

“This has been one game out of 46 so let’s not get car­ried away, but the team did play with a cer­tain style and grace to­day and I’m de­lighted with that.

“The play­ers did a fan­tas­tic job and they’ll de­serve the plau­dits. It’s def­i­nitely not about me and the coach­ing staff to­day.

“Let’s just try our best to carry on this road now and see what hap­pens.”

The at­mos­phere at Frat­ton Park was pos­i­tively rau­cous at kick-off time and it was Pom­pey – fea­tur­ing nine debu­tants in their start­ing XI – who went on to boss the first half.

Chris­tian Burgess headed wide early on, be­fore Ben­nett curled an ef­fort inches wide.

Matt Tubbs – one of those not mak­ing his Pom­pey bow – brought a su­per one-handed save out of Dag­gers goal­keeper Mark Cousins.

The visi­tors – who fea­tured just four debu­tants – threat­ened mid­way through the half when Jamie Cure­ton, just three weeks shy of his 40th birth­day, glanced a header nar­rowly wide.

But it didn’t take Pom­pey long to break the dead­lock af­ter the restart. And it was a fairly rou­tine strike for the hosts as Gareth Evans – signed from Fleet­wood in the sum­mer – pow­ered home a header from Ben­nett’s cor­ner­kick.

The Pom­pey shack­les were seem­ingly off and they dou­bled their lead just af­ter the hour mark. This time for­mer Don­caster man Ben­nett lashed high into the goal off the un­der­side of the cross­bar af­ter latch­ing onto an Enda Stevens throw-in.

Eleven min­utes later he grabbed the goal of the game, drilling home from 20 yards.

It proved a mis­er­able day for the Dag­gers, who ended last sea­son above Pom­pey in League Two, and boss Wayne Bur­nett be­lieves his side were the mas­ters of their own down­fall. “Portsmouth have got some very good play­ers, but we caused our own prob­lems,” he said.

“They’ve ended up scor­ing from two restarts and that’s not re­ally good enough.

“We’ve switched off from two corners and in the end that has proved the dif­fer­ence.

“There were too many play­ers who played be­low their po­ten­tial, too.

“But it’s the open­ing day, though. Let’s not for­get that. Now we have to dust our­selves down and go again in mid­week.”

PIC­TURES: TGS PHOTO

OFF THE BAR: Kyle Ben­nett scores Portsmouth’s sec­ond

Gareth Evans of Portsmouth heads

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