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