The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Chris Mar­shall-Bell

PORTSMOUTH man­ager Paul Cook be­moaned the most dispir­it­ing per­for­mance un­der his ten­ure as his side suf­fered a shock de­feat at home to rel­e­ga­tion bat­tlers Crewe.

Ge­orge Ray’s 77th-minute header en­sured Crewe claimed a de­serv­ing three points to atone for their 4-0 drub­bing at the hands of fel­low rel­e­ga­tion ri­vals Hartlepool on Tues­day.

But the loss meant that Pompey missed the chance to leapfrog Carlisle and move into the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion places for the sec­ond time in the week, hav­ing drawn with More­cambe on Tues­day.

“For a large per­cent­age of the game we were sec­ond best, sec­ond to ev­ery­thing and the bet­ter team won,” Cook said.

“Crewe were full value and we never looked like scor­ing. That was as flat a per­for­mance as we can get and in my opin­ion we got what we de­served.

“The dis­ap­point­ment is first the re­sult and sec­ond how lack­But lus­tre we looked. As a man­ager I must take the blame.

“I’m hurt and when you feel as low as this you have to feel the pain be­cause if you don’t you won’t have that fire to do some­thing about it and get this great foot­ball club where it should be. Pain is healthy.”

Win­ning man­ager David Artell, how­ever, was in a much more up­beat mood.

He said: “The in­con­sis­tences in­fu­ri­ate me and we saw that in the week, but it just shows how good we can be

“It was prob­a­bly the best per­for­mance (since I took over). I thought tac­ti­cally we were spot on and the lads were ter­rific.

“We were the bet­ter team through­out. We had three or four re­ally good chances and if I am be­ing hy­per-crit­i­cal, it should have been more.

“They had a lot of the ball but didn’t hurt us.

“But I thought we hurt them from deep po­si­tions when we were at­tack­ing, and hurt them when we were in their de­fen­sive third.”

The hosts pressed in­tently in the first half but failed to force Crewe keeper Ben Gar­ratt into ac­tion.

Eoin Doyle spurned a glanc­ing header on nine min­utes, and Gary Roberts hit the sidenet­ting from a free-kick not long af­ter.

it was Crewe who came the clos­est, Ben Nu­gent’s header be­ing blocked on the line by Enda Stevens on the cusp of the in­ter­val.

The vis­i­tors coun­tered a slug­gish Pompey side when­ever pos­si­ble, and af­ter Cal­lum Cooke twice went close to scor­ing in a mat­ter of min­utes, Alex scored the win­ning goal late on.

Billy Bing­ham’s close-range shot from a cor­ner was re­pelled on the line and Cooke swung the ball back into the box where Ray was wait­ing to head home from six yards.

Portsmouth were un­able to breach their op­po­nents’ de­fence in the re­main­ing min­utes, lead­ing to a toxic at­mos­phere at the full-time whis­tle in­side Frat­ton Park as they slipped to fifth in the ta­ble.


GAFFER: Crewe’s David Artell WELL IN: Eoin Doyle slides in on Ben Nu­gent

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