POM­PEY PRAY­ING FOR HELP

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Alex Smith

PORTSMOUTH man­ager Paul Cook ad­mits his side will have to wait for other teams to slip up if they are to get pro­moted au­to­mat­i­cally.

Cook watched as loan pair Matt Clarke and Marc McNulty gave Pom­pey an unas­sail­able half-time lead against poor Craw­ley, be­fore su­per sub Gary Roberts added some gloss late on.

The south coast club are still four points adrift of third-placed Ox­ford and Cook in­sists the pres­sure is on the U’s, Plymouth and Northamp­ton to keep win­ning as his team are ready to swoop on any slip up.

The for­mer Ch­ester­field man­ager said: “If we keep win­ning I’m sure some of the other teams will drop points. If we don’t pick up points we won’t be where we want to be.

“The teams above us are repet­i­tively win­ning games and if they keep do­ing that then they will de­serve the suc­cess they get.

“It is go­ing to be lit­tered with bad per­for­mances and bad re­sults, but we have to ride that when they come.

“I think that’s as good as we’ve played this sea­son.

“If our supporters want to know how we want to play, that is it.

“In games like that it is im­por­tant to blow teams away and take those chances and we did.

“We haven’t con­ceded for a while now and we’ve had a couple of strong wins.”

De­fender Clarke, whose loan from Ip­swich is due to get re­newed next week, gave Pom­pey the lead when he nod­ded in Ben Davies’s cor­ner at the front post for his first pro­fes­sional goal.

Like Clarke, McNulty is set to stay at Frat­ton Park af­ter his stint from Sh­effield United fin­ishes next week.

And also like the im­pres­sive Clarke, the at­tack­ing ace got on the score­sheet dur­ing a ram­pant open­ing 45 min­utes, care­fully controlling Enda Stevens’ cross be­fore ri­fling past Daryl Fla­ha­van.

A third was al­ways on the cards and it fi­nally ar­rived seven min­utes from time when teenager Ben Tol­litt ran the length of the field to tee up Roberts.

Craw­ley had im­proved af­ter the break and came close to get­ting back into the game with a Gwion Ed­wards free-kick which re­bounded off the cross­bar.

But Reds boss Mark Yates ad­mit­ted he had been bettered by one of League Two’s great­est.

He said: “Some­times you have to ap­plaud the op­po­si­tion and say, ‘How do you deal with that move­ment and that qual­ity of play?’

“I think they will go up. They have a really good squad and we made it too easy for them in the first half.

“We changed it in the sec­ond half and we looked a lot more solid and with a lit­tle bit of luck we could have got some­thing out the game – not say­ing we would have de­served it. “We’re half­way through the year, 25 games in, have 31 points and are mid-tableish, we’re not go­ing to be where Portsmouth are this sea­son.”

PIC­TURES: TGSPHOTO

ON THE MARC: Portsmouth’s Marc McNulty scores the sec­ond

OPENER: Matthew Clarke (mid­dle) scores the first

STAR MAN KYLE BEN­NETT Portsmouth

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