Boss looks ahead to Carlisle clash
After a flying start to the season, Pompey’s results have plateaued in recent weeks.
They have not won in the league since facing Newport away more than a month ago, taking three points from the following four fixtures.
That has seen them fall nine points adrift of pace-setters Plymouth and four behind second-placed Oxford ahead of this weekend’s lengthy trip to Carlisle.
And Paul Cook wants to see his side bridge that gap by the end of the hectic festive period.
The Blues boss said: “I believe that this run of matches up until Christmas will probably define the league.
“Plymouth are showing signs of breaking clear, Oxford are hanging on to their coat-tails and if that’s where we want to be then we have to make sure our results get us there.
“Our last away performance at Notts County was probably our best of the season and we got nothing.
“But in the game after that against Macclesfield in the FA Cup we won without playing particularly well.
“Carlisle are a strong, free-scoring side and have had some decent results this season, along with – like the rest of us – some they won’t be happy with.
“There is often a lot of goals in their matches, so we’ll go up there presuming it will be an entertaining contest.
“But we’re not going there simply to be involved in a good game of football – we want to collect all three points.”
Carlisle posted images of their flooded Brunton Park pitch at the start of the week, but the surface is now completely clear of water ready for Saturday’s clash.
Cook said: “It reminded me of Shrewsbury’s old Gay Meadow ground and others which were next to rivers. You had people in boats getting the ball back.
“But they had a Youth Cup game up there on Tuesday night and League Two pitches have improved no end since then.”
Watch the thoughts of Cook and Kyle Bennett below or subscribe to Pompey PlayerHD for the full interviews.