Paul Cook ‘a bit flat’ after Pompey miss out on top-three chance

Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler

Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler

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An impressive 2-0 victory at Hartlepool on Saturday highlighted many of Pompey’s best qualities.

The two second-half goals were fabulous.

Pompey supporters in fancy dress at Victoria Park. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey supporters in fancy dress at Victoria Park. Picture: Joe Pepler

Kal Naismith netted with an exquisite back-flick finish on 57 minutes.

Substitute Conor Chaplin again showed how cool and calm he is with a brilliantly-placed strike to make it 2-0 in the 85th minute.

That goal was set up by one of the many excellent forward forays from Pompey’s energetic and classy left-back Enda Stevens.

In the stands the 933 Blues fans again bellowed out fantastic backing for their team throughout the match.

They were in jovial spirits, with a sprinkling of traditional end-of-season fancy dress to add to the mix.

It turned out to be far from a flat end-of-season occasion, especially with Pompey’s promotion hopes still burning bright courtesy of a play-off place and the knowledge a semi-final against Plymouth Argyle now awaits.

But manager Paul Cook has been desperately trying to position his side in the top three to avoid that scenario.

The Blues know now that won’t happen with Accrington, Oxford United and Bristol Rovers all winning on Saturday.

Those three teams will be gunning for two automatic promotion places to join champions Northampton Town in League One on the final day.

Cook has admitted those sides deserve their shot at glory.

It is clear he feels hugely disappointed he hasn’t delivered a chance of that for the Fratton faithful when the Blues host the Cobblers in their final match of the regular season on Saturday.

He said: ‘We’re just a little bit flat because we can’t take it to the last game.

‘I really wanted us to try to go into the last game to give the supporters just a glimmer of hope.

‘Unfortunately we haven’t been able to do that.

‘That’s because the teams this year have been better than us.

‘I’m a bit disappointed.’

The wonderful backing from the Pompey fans on Saturday epitomised their loyalty once again.

Cook is delighted to have them right behind the team with the play-offs ahead.

He added: ‘Our supporters are a credit to themselves.

‘We’ve had some rough times this year where we’ve lost them a little bit.

‘But I feel they are fully with us at the minute.

‘That’s important because they are a credit to the club, you see the numbers and the allocation sold out.

‘They give the players fantastic support and that’s very much reciprocated back.

‘We know how much they want it and we have got to want it just as much as them.

‘We did but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.’

Cook and his team will be desperate now to give the fans a day out at Wembley and make sure they grab their second shot at promotion.

He added: ‘We really want to deliver for them.

‘It’s important they feel that and I can guarantee them we won’t leave a stone unturned.’