COOK IS DEF­I­NITELY NOT OVER THE MOON

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Tim Mor­riss

DIS­AP­POINTED Portsmouth boss Paul Cook urged his play­ers to bounce back over the Easter week­end to keep alive their au­to­matic pro­mo­tion hopes af­ter an en­ter­tain­ing draw at play-off ri­vals Mans­field.

Cook’s side re­main five points off the top three af­ter com­ing from be­hind to earn a point fol­low­ing a missed penalty.

He said: “We might as well be five points off the moon at the minute.We are so dis­ap­pointed with how we are play­ing. I thought we would go on in the se­cond half and win that game com­fort­ably.

“We have got to bounce back next week­end. It’s a big week­end for us. Frat­ton Park will be packed and we have got to make our fans be­lieve in us.

“Any­one who has watched us all sea­son would prob­a­bly say that was a typ­i­cal Portsmouth per­for­mance.

“My job is to make th­ese play­ers bet­ter so let’s see where we fin­ish the sea­son and let’s hope it is a po­si­tion where there is still some­thing to play for.

“The only pos­i­tive is that the ref­eree blew the whis­tle and we drew 1-1.”

Mans­field, who have yet to beat a side in the top half of the ta­ble, ended a run of three 1-0 de­feats to keep alive their out­side play-off hopes and are seven points off sev­enth place.

Man­ager Adam Mur­ray said: “We had to end the run of de­feats and to do it against a team and a club like that takes ex­tra ef­fort.

“That per­for­mance has put us back on track. Peo­ple will look at the league and say you’ve dropped a cou­ple of places or you’re this many points off.

“But this isn’t over. We’ve got 27 points to play for yet and trust me when I say there are go­ing to be some swings and round­abouts still and we are go­ing to be right in it.

“It was a tough game against a very, very good side. But I thought we more than matched them.

“A point was about right. They’ve had chances, we’ve had chances.”

Keeper Scott Shearer kept Mans­field in con­tention when he saved his third penalty in eight games in the 21st minute, push­ing away Marc McNulty’s spot-kick af­ter the striker was felled by Daniel Alfei.

Five min­utes later the Stags claimed their first goal for 302 min­utes when debu­tant Mani Dieseru­vwe flicked on a long ball for Matt Green to race clear.

The striker checked back in­side be­fore fir­ing in his 12th goal of the sea­son from 12 yards into the bot­tom cor­ner.

Two min­utes be­fore half-time Portsmouth lev­elled when home de­fender Ryan Tafa­zolli de­flected in a Ben Davies cor­ner. The flag kick was sent deep into the six-yard area and Tafaz­zoli, mar­shalling Michael Smith, was un­able to stop the ball hit­ting his midrift and rolling over the line.

In the se­cond half Portsmouth’s Kyle Ben­nett saw his goal­bound shot de­flected wide by Lee Collins, while at the other end Tafa­zolli’s header was saved by Ryan Ful­ton, who then dived to keep out Mitchell Rose’s late 30-yard piledriver to pre­serve Pom­pey’s point.

PIC­TURES: Dan West­well

UN­HAPPY: Mans­field’s Ryan Tafa­zolli is help­less as the ball hits him and goes in for the equaliser

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