Pressure for points is Cook’s Pompey call

Kyle Bennett, Gary Roberts and Enda Stevens celebrate during the 4-0 win over Notts County on Good Friday Picture: Joe Pepler
Kyle Bennett, Gary Roberts and Enda Stevens celebrate during the 4-0 win over Notts County on Good Friday Picture: Joe Pepler

PAUL COOK demanded Pompey up the pressure on Carlisle to continue their promotion charge.

And the Blues boss is again prepared to sacrifice dominance of possession in an effort to make Keith Curle’s side wilt.

Cook’s side welcome the play-off-chasers to Fratton Park tomorrow looking to extend a run of a single defeat in seven.

Carlisle themselves are in buoyant mood, however, after defeating promotion rivals Bristol Rovers on Monday – who were on a six-game winning run.

The manager feels the key to success rests in Pompey adapting the way they play, with intense focus on points over performance.

The 4-0 romp over Notts County came despite the Blues being edged on possession by their opponents.

That’s been the exception rather than the norm this season, but it’s an approach Cook’s ready to continue with.

He said: ‘We have to make sure we put Carlisle under pressure to win the game.

‘The Cambridge and Notts County performances saw a team playing a little more direct in pursuit of winning.

‘You have to believe we are going to win every game now.

‘We have to believe we are going to go up automatically.

‘If I can’t believe it, how can I expect anyone else to believe it?

‘But we may have to change the way we go about things.

‘Against Newport, on the back of Accrington, we all thought we’d cracked it. That’s what football does to you.

‘We all did. We all got ahead of ourselves after a fantastic performance. But, like any fantastic performance, it has to be put away quickly.’

Cook highlighted the difference in approach between the low of defeat to Newport County last month and the successes against the Magpies and Cambridge in February, as evidence of how he wants to test opponents

‘If you look at Notts County, our whole attitude and emphasis was to make them work,’ he said.

‘That resulted in (Alan) Smith coming off early for them. Against Cambridge (Leon) Legge came off with cramp.

‘Against Newport all they were doing was celebrating with their fans. They shouldn’t have any energy left by the time they leave Fratton Park.

‘That’s what we have to concentrate on.’

Although, perhaps not sitting entirely comfortably with Cook, he feels adapting the way his team plays is restricting chances for the opposition at present.

And that, for now, means possession is worth forfeiting.

Cook added: ‘We are going to have to give that up. It’s what you sacrifice in pursuit of winning.

‘What you must do, if you score first, is go on and dominate possession to build an ideal performance.

‘The game against Notts County was basically 50-50 but they didn’t create anything.

‘Cambridge scored in stoppage-time after not having a shot on goal.

‘But we are sacrificing some of our possession to make that happen.

‘When you educate players to play one way, you have to educated them in other ways to win a game.’