PAUL COOK sensed the buzz of a defining showdown with Plymouth and vowed: Now is our time.
The Pompey boss is anticipating a key moment in the bid to reach League One against the Pilgrims in tomorrow’s promotion battle at Fratton Park.
And Cook has stressed the importance of his troops focusing on the threat they offer, as they bid for a critical three points.
The clash with Derek Adams’ side has long been ringed as a critical date in how the campaign will play out.
It has panned out that way, with the biggest league crowd of the season expected for the occasion.
Now Cook wants everyone associated with Pompey to savour a moment which has got the adrenalin pumping.
He said: ‘This game is a reward.
‘The fans will probably be in the pub an hour earlier and the missus will be moaning at them.
‘When we wake up Saturday we’ll have that buzz.
‘It’s here now. I was at the club yesterday morning. It was here on a Thursday.
‘Saturday’s game is not a chore for anyone but we shouldn’t take away from how difficult the game is going to be. Plymouth are a strong side.
‘We always felt if we were to get above Plymouth we’d have to beat them at home. As it’s progressed it is that.
‘So the importance of the game if we are to be promoted automatically, the likelihood is we must win the game.
‘If we don’t win the game we can still do it automatically, but people’s perception of it (happening) will go.
‘So Saturday’s game has all the titles that people want to give it.
‘We were brought here to lead. Now is the time to lead. Now is the time.
‘For us as a club, it’s huge there’s a feeling of optimism about where we were and where we want to go as a club.
‘We can go in that direction.
‘To sit here with games to go and everything to play for is great credit to everyone. It’s all to play for.
‘And if we keep winning games we will cause people headaches.’
Cook has underlined the conviction he has in his men as they go into the game, with the momentum created by three league wins on the bounce.
That was seen at Dagenham & Redbridge last weekend as he resisted the clamour for changes before Pompey came from behind to grab a 4-1 win.
He now wants to see the onus continue on the threat his players can offer against a major rival.
Cook said: ‘At stages against Notts County there were times in the first half when there weren’t many cool heads.
‘The game will take shape. But none of us know how that will go. Will we be in ascendancy early on? We plan to be.
‘They might come and score two like Morecambe did. We can only watch their games and look at their personnel. Then, more importantly, we look at how we are going to play.
‘For me, that’s the catalyst to everything. How we are going to play. We can’t determine how they are going to play. We can determine how we are going to play.
‘I have great faith in these players. It’s awareness and then focus on us. That, for me, is everything.’