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Cook stirred up for Cod Army clash

12 October 2013

By Tony Leighton

It's the Sky Bet League 2 match of the season to date as leaders Chesterfield travel to second in the table Fleetwood Town - but don't ask Spireites manager Paul Cook to over-hype a contest that could end in his team losing top spot.

"It's just the next game," Cook told football-league.co.uk as he looked ahead to an outing which follows two surprise league defeats - the last of them an absolute shocker, 4-3 at Morecambe after holding a three-goal advantage at half-time.

Cook's team bounced back to win their midweek Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie against near neighbours Mansfield Town, co-incidentally the team that had beaten them in the league match prior to the meeting with Morecambe.

But despite the Trophy morale boost Cook is still smarting from the loss to the Shrimps, the result having left Chesterfield just one point above Fleetwood following the Cod Army's recent run of four wins in five League 2 games.

The Spireites had themselves been on an extremely impressive run before their recent two-match league lapse, having gone unbeaten in their first eight games of the campaign and taken 21 points from a possible 24.

Cook said: "When you're on those good runs you know it can't last, but it's how long you can make it last that's important and the biggest disappointment at Morecambe was that we lost a game that we'd been totally dominant in.

"The day-to-day messages you give to players and staff are what get you home, and up until 3.45pm last Saturday the messages were loud and clear and good - and then from 4pm last Saturday the messages were not right.

"I blame myself for that. I'm a hard manager to play for at times because I'm demanding, but at Morecambe everybody - including myself - let the supporters down. We should never have thrown away that game in a million years.

"My biggest problem was that I never saw it coming after we'd been so dominant in the first half. But suddenly it was 3-1, then it was 3-2 and the game was slipping away from us because they were in the ascendency.

"Not many managers are 3-0 up at half-time and get beat 4-3. We all got caught out and it was a football lesson - just when you think you know everything, something comes along to tell you how wrong you were."

As wrong as Cook and his players may have been for 45 minutes at Morecambe, they got it right at Mansfield on Tuesday as a 1-0 Trophy win restored confidence ahead of what should be their toughest test of the season so far.

Graham Alexander's Fleetwood are flying and threatening to rob the Spireites of top spot, but Cook's resolve is not broken despite recent League 2 results and his pre-season target of promotion is still firmly in the front of his mind.

"Fleetwood will offer us some tests because they're a very good side," said Cook. "Graham has recruited well, he's got a team that's scoring goals and picking up points and it will be difficult. But Graham knows that we're a good side as well.

"My aim is promotion and hopefully to win the league. I'm not shouting my mouth off saying we're going to do it, and we'll have more lows this season as well as highs. But is winning the league a realistic target? Without a doubt it is."

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