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Cookie Pleased With Second Half

15 December 2012

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Chesterfield manager Paul Cook was keen to focus on the positives after an impressive second-half performance helped the Spireites recover from a one-goal deficit to earn a well deserved point against Gary Rowett's Burton Albion.

Marc Richards' third goal in four games hauled the hosts level 17 minutes from time, after Jacques Maghoma's first-half strike had given the Brewers a deserved lead heading into the dressing rooms. The former Tottenham Hotspur trainee was unfortunate not to double the visitors' advantage after the restart, when he bundled home after Tommy Lee had denied Calvin Zola's powerful header, but Cook's side responded through Mark Randall who clattered the upright with a delightful free-kick.

Veteran striker Richards was also a lick of paint from restoring parity, but he finally go the goal his industrious performance merited to salvage a potentially valuable point heading towards Christmas.

"Yeah, it was a disappointment in the end," Cookie told the club's media staff at full-time.

"We never got going in the first half, a lot of it is mentality and being strong. We thought we could just turn up today, but it doesn't happen like that. You must start on the front foot and be aggressive in your play.

"We've got to respect that teams come here to stop us, not to let us play well and get the crowd on our side. I thought they were terrific in the first half, they frustrated us and we played into their hands. We were slow, predictable and we made bad decisions.

"But that was everything we weren't in the second half, I thought we were absolutely fantastic. When you don't win games and you play like that, I've got no problems. Our supporters will go home tonight and they know that if we play like we did in the second half, we'll be okay."

The home side started on the front foot after a sequence of four league wins on the bounce, but it was only a matter of time before Rowett's charges awoke and they came close to breaking the deadlock when Lee Bell's sublime effort thumped the crossbar.

Maghoma's low drive gave the visitors the lead soon after, but after winning their previous two games by a 1-0 scoreline, Albion couldn't make it a hat-trick when Richards headed home Randall's sumptuous cross.

And Cook was pleased with his side's response after going a goal down for the first time since the 2-1 win over Oxford United.

"When you're not playing well, you've got to stay in games," he said.

"It's different from Port Vale and Cheltenham, those teams will come to beat you. I'm not saying Burton didn't come to win the game, but tactically they set up to be hard to beat and to counter attack and we must make sure we are patient and make good decisions in possession.

"Passing through the middle of the pitch is impossible, because there's that many bodies. So we must go wide with quality and put quality in the box, which is everything we did in the second half and when you do that you will score goals.

"It was a disappointing goal from us, but our lads have been terrific. As a manager, we're not going to play well every minute. I demand performances, I don't demand results. I know we won't play well every week, but the lads responded magnificently. When you are getting beaten at home 1-0, it's easy to say, 'It's not our day'. But we've got to make it our day.

"If we win football games we will get where we want to be, if we don't win football games then we won't," he added. "I don't pay interest in what other teams do. We go to Southend next and my attentions turn to there as the manager.

"It will be a good game, because Southend will think expect to beat us at home and it is a lot easier to play in those games for us. Against teams at home, York and Morecambe might be similar, it's important our fans are patient and I thought today they were a credit to the club again. They were fantastic, they were vocal and the noise in the second-half was terrific."

The Liverpudlian initially named the same starting eleven that comfortably dispatched of Mick Adam's Port Vale, but those plans were scuppered merely 20 minutes before kick-off after former Portuguese international Luis Boa Morte felt a twinge in his hamstring.

On loan Brighton and Hove Albion winger Brennan Dickenson came into fill the void, and Cook revealed that it wasn't worth risking the former Premier League winner so early in the season.

"Luis felt his hamstring, he felt it on Thursday," he said.

"On Friday we didn't do a lot because of the weather, we did a light session on the Friday which is not normal for us. And today, he started feeling it in the warm up. So rather than risk him, we left him out. It is better to be aware of the injury and stop it, because we don't want Luis pulling his hamstring and being out for six weeks.

"It's important to protect our players because it's a long campaign still ahead, there's a lot of games to go and we're going to be competitive."

You can watch Cookie's interview in full exclusively on Spireites Player.

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