STEVE Cook revealed “a few words” from Cherries boss Eddie Howe had prompted a vastly-improved individual display on his Championship return.
Cook, who had missed Cherries’ past eight league games after suffering a hamstring injury in December, was restored to the starting line-up for Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Bolton.
The 22-year-old defender was drafted in as a replacement for Elliott Ward and admitted he had been “disappointed” with his first-half showing at the Reebok.
Cherries, pegged back by goals from Chung-Yong Lee and Lukas Jutkiewicz inside the opening 32 minutes, earned a deserved point thanks to a stunning strike from Lewis Grabban and a Simon Francis header.
Cook, who started Cherries’ first 20 games in the Championship, told the Daily Echo: “Defensively, I thought we were disappointing in the first half and conceded two poor goals. From a personal point of view, it took me a while to get into the game, which was frustrating.
“But we showed great character to come back and I thought we deserved to win. We took the game to them and were a real force but just couldn’t get that winning goal. We went into the dressing room disappointed and that told the story of the game.
“I was disappointed with my first-half performance because I had wanted to show the manager that I was ready to play. He has always had a lot of faith in me and I wanted to come back into the side and hold down my place.
“I have so much respect for him and felt I let him down in the first 35 minutes because my standards dropped. He had a few words with me at half-time and, fortunately, I got my head right and thought I did well in the second half as I grew into the game.”
Cook, whose maiden goal in the Championship came during the 5-2 win over Millwall in October, went close to levelling for Cherries when his far-post header from an Ian Harte corner early in the second half hit the post.
“I haven’t seen it again but my initial thought was that I should have scored,” said Cook. “I will hold back until I have seen the DVD but, thankfully, Franno (Simon Francis) bailed me out and scored his goal.
“Our delivery from Matt Ritchie, Harry Arter and Ian Harte was outstanding and we got one goal from a set-piece and probably should have got two. We looked a threat all over the pitch and it was just the slow start that cost us in the end. We were half pleased with a draw but should have won so it was two points dropped.”