A LEARNING CURVE FOR COOK & CO
PORTSMOUTH boss Paul Cook was relieved his players sent the supporters home happy as they bounced back in style from their Newport nightmare.
Cook’s side cruised to an easy victory over a hapless Notts County as Mark Cooper’s reign as manager got off to a terrible start.
Kyle Bennett helped himself to two goals, the first coming after a jinking run, the second being a very composed finish.
Christian Burgess then powered in a header from a free-kick to make it 3-0 before Marc McNulty took advantage of some terrible defending to make it four having been left completely unmarked.
After losing 3-0 to Newport in their last outing at Fratton Park, Cook was pleased with the response.
“It was important we reacted from the defeat against Newport at home which was a difficult day for us all,” he said.
“The supporters went home unhappy, but thankfully on this occasion it was the opposite.
“The good thing for us is that the Newport game was a huge learning curve for us.
“That’s why I get frustrated with results like that because of how we have played against Notts here.
“You have to play in certain areas of the pitch and the most important areas are both boxes and what happens in them.
“When we play like we did here, we put teams under pressure and in the end we got the goals.”
After Jamie Fullarton was sacked 69 days into the job, Cooper was handed the reins last Sunday and immediately realised the challenge facing him.
He must reach a certain points target to extend his contract in the summer, but has the task of trying to stop the rot in a Magpies team who have conceded eight goals in their last two games.
Bennett’s opener was horribly defended as he waltzed past Elliott Hewitt, and the winger took advantage of an unorganised back three to slot in the third.
But the last two goals summed up Notts’ soft underbelly as Burgess charged into the box unchallenged to meet a free-kick.
The worst was still to come when McNulty was left completely unchallenged to steer in the easiest goal he will score all season.
And Cooper said: “A lot of people told me before I came, that Notts conceded a lot of goals.
“For 42 minutes, we saw them off but then the softest of goals unlocks us.
“If you look at all four goals they did not come from brilliant play. All you have to do is just mark your man and make sure you win the headers.
“The players have to take responsibility, because they have had three managers, different permutations but if you don’t want to head the ball when it comes into the box you’ve got no chance.
“For the first goal there was no danger.”
DOUBLING UP: Kyle Bennett scores his and Portsmouth’s second goal before turning away in celebration, inset
LUCK OUT: County’s Liam Noble shoots to no avail
STAR MAN CHRIST