PAUL COOK fears a Crewe repeat performance before the end of the season.
The Pompey boss is expecting more pain ahead as the Blues’ promotion bid reaches its climax.
Cook’s side hit a low last weekend as a dismal display was produced in the 1-0 loss to the Railwaymen.
Boos rung around Fratton Park after a defeat which saw Pompey pass up the chance to move into the top three.
An impressive response followed, with the pressure on, in Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Crawley, however.
With 11 games remaining this season, the onus is now on the Blues to get themselves over the line across the next eight weeks.
But Cook feels there will be more downs to go with the ups in the pursuit of success.
He said: ‘You come out on Saturday (after a defeat) to speak to the press with your teeth in your limb. You’re hurting that much it’s untrue.
‘You’re worried about the players feeling the same.
‘That’s because when you put in performances like Crewe you just don’t know where it’s come from.
‘It’s the same team who had 26 attempts on goal against Morecambe.
‘The only time the manager can criticise players is at the end of the season when you feel you’ve not done enough.
‘You look at our last four performances – Carlisle, Morecambe, Crewe and Crawley – we’ve had three very good ones.
‘Between now and the end of the season there’s another Crewe in us. Make no bones about it.
‘The challenge is how we react to it.
‘You see me as a manager. I won’t get too down. I get hurt, but I won’t get too down.
‘I knew my players would turn up on Tuesday night. I didn’t have a problem with that.
‘My worry is soon we might put ourselves in that position where we might put ourselves in a bad position.
‘But now we’re looking forward to Colchester. It’s certainly a huge game.
‘We’re looking forward to it, and if we can go there and win it won’t half be a good result.’
Despite anticipating another low over the remainder of the season, Cook sees his men handling the pressure of the run-in.
With expectations high throughout his 22-month tenure as manager, the Pompey boss feels handling the heat is nothing new for his players.
Cook added: ‘No-one puts up with the pressure the Portsmouth lads do. No-one else at all.
‘Doncaster can be champions at the end of the season – and they’ll deserve it.
‘But our lads face cup finals every single week. No-one else.
‘Our lads have to have a little bit about them.
‘If you go to Cheltenham playing for Portsmouth and Cheltenham playing for Doncaster they’re two different games.’