COOK IS DEFINITELY NOT OVER THE MOON
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.
UNHAPPY: Mansfield’s Ryan Tafazolli is helpless as the ball hits him and goes in for the equaliser