Boss reflects on first leg stalemate
There was a sense of relief and disappointment when the final whistle was blown to end Pompey’s first leg play-off encounter with Plymouth.
Disappointment because the home side finished in the ascendancy and were looking for more than just a 2-2 draw.
But relief because after 90 minutes of non-stop action, everyone inside Fratton Park needed to catch their breath.
Marc McNulty opened the scoring before a brace from Jamille Matt turned the game on its head.
Plymouth’s striker had earlier escaped a red card after appearing to headbutt Michael Doyle and Paul Cook’s reaction saw him sent to the stands.
But Gary Roberts levelled from the penalty spot in a second half that Pompey dominated.
And Cook preferred to speak about the quality of the contest rather than the moments of controversy.
The Blues boss said: “It was a great occasion between two very committed teams and a fantastic game for the Sky cameras to capture.
“The atmosphere was amazing and I thought it was the perfect advertisement for League Two football.
“It was a great goal from Marc and then we gave a couple of soft ones away, but that’s football. We showed good character to get back into it.
“We feel aggrieved over some of the decisions, but I’d rather talk about the football. I get into enough trouble because I can’t behave on the sidelines.
“We dominated the game in the second half. They didn’t enter our half much and didn’t have a shot on goal.
“I felt that we should have been braver in our play and tried to open them up a bit more, but there you go.
“It’s evenly balanced and I’m sure we’ve got Plymouth’s respect because they’ve certainly got ours.
“They’re a good side and they have players who can hurt you, so we’ve got to be able to manage that.”
Pompey handed a debut to goalkeeper Ryan Allsop, who was brought in on an emergency loan after Brian Murphy joined Paul Jones and Ryan Fulton on the injury list.
Cook said: “It’s tough when you get thrown in. He’s been with us a day and then goes straight into a game like that.”
Watch Cook’s thoughts on the game below or subscribe to Pompey PlayerHD for interviews with the manager and Roberts.