The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Tayler Will­son

PORTSMOUTH boss Paul Cook didn’t know whether to laugh or cry af­ter a Gary Roberts-inspired turn­around earned them a last-gasp draw with More­cambe.

Goals from Tom Barkhuizen, Alan Goodall and Andy Flem­ing left Portsmouth with a huge hill to climb at 3-0 af­ter just 38 min­utes.

How­ever, a goal just shy of the break from Roberts and his sec­ond just past the hour set up an en­thralling end to the game that saw sub­sti­tute Jay­den Stock­ley head home an equaliser at the death.

Cook ad­mit­ted he was ap­palled by the first-half per­for­mance, but was more than happy with how his team re­sponded.

“That just showed what the team is about,” he said.“It showed our de­ter­mi­na­tion, our pas­sion and our qual­ity.The fans re­ally got be­hind us – even when we went down to ten men – and that re­ally helped.

“We had a poor first-half, a re­ally poor first-half. Ap­palling re­ally. It’s not ac­cept­able to play like that and I told them that at the break. I’m happy with the sec­ond­half per­for­mance, but we shouldn’t have been in that po­si­tion. All credit to More­cambe, though, they were great in that first-half.”

Stock­ley’s strike at the death was his first for the club since his sum­mer ar­rival, a goal that Cook thinks will give the striker a much­needed con­fi­dence boost.

“It was im­por­tant for Jay­den to get that goal, he needed it,” said Cook. “He’s worked tire­lessly since he came here and he’s a great player. This is the start of things to come – he’ll only get bet­ter from here on.”

Pom­pey were left shell-shocked by their visi­tors af­ter Barkhuizen drilled in the opener af­ter 11 min­utes and Goodall headed into the bot­tom cor­ner soon af­ter.

Flem­ing’s shot nes­tled in the cor­ner to make it three, be­fore Roberts fired in a free-kick to of­fer the hosts a glimpse be­fore the break. Roberts’ sec­ond came cour­tesy of his sweet left foot but Enda Stevens was shown a sec­ond yel­low card eight min­utes later to halt the come­back.

How­ever, Stock­ley en­sured that didn’t cost them a point, meet­ing Adam Web­ster’s cross to head home late on.

“Most peo­ple wouldn’t have given us a hope in hell of get­ting a point here,” said More­cambe boss Jim Bent­ley.

“Portsmouth have started well, Paul Cook’s got them play­ing good football, he’s brought in good play­ers and that’s why they’re up there as favourites to get pro­mo­tion this year.

“It’s the best football we’ve played this sea­son. It’s the best we’ve played in a while and I knew we were ca­pa­ble of that. I now just need to get them do­ing that ev­ery week and I think we can get there.

“I just feel sorry for the team that they aren’t go­ing home with three points. Where the six min­utes added time came from, I do not know. There were some very ar­guable de­ci­sions to­day, but I’ll say no more than that.

“It’s done now and that’s that.”


BACK IN IT: Gary Roberts fires in a free-kick to pull one back for Portsmouth GOOD GOAL: Alan Goodall dou­bles the visi­tors’ lead at Frat­ton Park with an ac­cu­rate header STAR MAN GARY ROBER

TS Portsm


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