The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FIRST ROUND - By Mike Vim­pany

PORTSMOUTH may have tasted vic­tory in the FA Cup for the first time since April 2010, but boss Paul Cook in­sists his team are very much a work in progress af­ter a nervy win over Non-League Mac­cles­field at Frat­ton Park.

Since beat­ing Tot­ten­ham 2-0 in the semi­fi­nal at Wem­b­ley more than five years ago, Pom­pey had ex­ited at the first-round stage in all of the last five sea­sons.

But two first-half goals from Adam McGurk en­sured that hor­ri­ble record ended against a valiant Mac­cles­field out­fit.

And al­though pleased to be in the next round, Cook con­ceded Pom­pey hadn’t played any­where near the level he expects of a team with pro­mo­tion as­pi­ra­tions.

“We didn’t play well and lacked the ap­petite.” he said.

“We huffed and puffed, con­tin­u­ally giv­ing the ball away – as if no thought process went into our play. That leads to neg­a­tiv­ity creep­ing into the team.

“We weren’t at the races and you can see what hap­pened at Sal­ford City (who beat Notts County 2-0) how shocks come about.

“We’re in the hat, but we’ve got to be bet­ter than that. I want the fans to go home happy, but I’ve never seen us give the ball away so much, par­tic­u­larly in the sec­ond half.

“But I keep say­ing the same mes­sage to peo­ple we are a learn­ing team on a learn­ing curve.”

McGurk set­tled any nerves down early as he struck on three min­utes, find­ing space be­fore send­ing a drilled ef­fort in off Sh­wan Jalal’s post.

Conor Chap­lin may have dou­bled the lead shortly af­ter­wards if not for a brave tackle from David Fitz­patrick and the Silk­men were soon level when top scorer Kris­tian Den­nis charged down Brian Mur­phy’s clear­ance to equalise.

But McGurk re­stored Pom­pey’s lead on the stroke of half-time, re­act­ing to a re­bound quick­est to slot home.

And al­though chances were at a premium af­ter the break Danny Whi­taker should have scored to earn a re­play for the resur­gent Silk­men late on.

And de­spite com­mend­ing the ef­forts of his play­ers, Mac­cles­field boss John Askey in­sists his side might have been in the next round if it weren’t for some par­tic­u­larly shoddy de­fen­sive work.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed with the way we con­ceded the goals, es­pe­cially let­ting one in so early when we needed to keep things tight,” he said.

“We had the chances to have taken them back to our place but it wasn’t to be.

“Play­ers have got to do their jobs and we didn’t in­side three min­utes. That wasn’t good enough.

“It makes it so tough, es­pe­cially when you’re play­ing away from home, and it wasn’t the way we wanted to start.

“Their goal­keeper made some good saves and Danny Whi­taker missed a fan­tas­tic chance right at the end which should have got us a re­play.”

PIC­TURES: Pro Sport

GOALS AD-DING UP: Portsmouth’s Adam McGurk cel­e­brates his sec­ond goal. In­set: the striker opens the scor­ing, in­set STAR MAN ADAM McGURK


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