The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Leigh Cur­tis

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.”

PIC­TURES: Adam Rivers/ Pro Sport

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



SS Portsm


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