Boss looks ahead to play-off decider
Paul Cook does not believe that either Pompey or Plymouth can be considered favourites to reach Wembley.
The sides meet again at Home Park on Sunday evening following a 2-2 first leg draw on the south coast.
Marc McNulty and Gary Roberts were on target in a game that saw the hosts completely on top in the second half, but unable to find a winner.
Cook is anticipating a tight encounter down in Devon, but does not want to see his side on the back foot.
The Blues boss said: “The first leg was a competitive, full-blooded affair and we felt we were the better side for large periods of the game.
“It’s not all case of how good were Pompey because there were spells in the first half where we struggled to deal with Plymouth, but we eventually took control.
“So I was a little bit disappointed that their manager said he thought they were the better team. I think you should give a fair assessment and it was a bit bewildering.
“They’re a good side and the tie’s still very much alive, so we can all very much look forward to the match on Sunday.
“We’re not going to go there and sit behind the ball – I can guarantee that we’ll be involved in a decent game.
“I would suggest that it’s very much 50/50. They’ll fear and respect us and we’ll fear and respect them.
“There’s not much between the teams – it’s very evenly balanced and the margins might be small once again.”
Cook was sent to the stands at Fratton Park following an argument with Plymouth coach Paul Wotton over the failure to dismiss Jamille Matt for an apparent headbutt on Michael Doyle.
It is a reaction that Pompey’s manager regrets – especially as it took some of the attention away from a riveting contest.
“When you’re live on Sky then there are no hiding places,” said Cook. “Their bench was acting aggressively to our bench saying we were trying to get a player sent off.
“I wasn’t going to sit back and allow people to scream and shout like that, so I did the same back to them.
“Both benches should have more respect towards each other – me towards them and them towards us.
“We were both extremely out of order and it’s not something we can be proud of – we need to be better role models.
“We should be talking about the football because everyone left the ground speaking about a great game.”
Watch Cook's thoughts on the game below or subscribe to Pompey PlayerHD for extended interviews with the manager and Michael Doyle.