HURT COOK IS LEFT IN PAIN...
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