The Blues’ 1-1 draw
with the League Two side on Tuesday night secured second place in their Papa John’s Trophy group and allowed them to advance to the knockout stages.
Despite needing just one point, Cowley entered the clash at Fratton Park to claim victory, naming a team that reflected such ambition.
Despite seven changes, his Pompey cast still included Owen Dale, Dale Scarlett, Zak Swanson, Joe Morrell, Joe Pigott, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Ronan Curtis.
He also brought in Josh Koroma, Connor Ogilvie and Jay Mingi in the second half and only named two Academy players on his roster.
With the Blues’ frustrating injury list and an FA Cup trip to Hereford on Friday, the head coach’s team selection could be seen as risky.
But Cowley was solely focused on winning instead of worrying about what could go wrong.
He said News::
“I was happy with the result, our goal was to qualify, we always try to win.
Danny Cowley has explained why he chose such a strong team against AFC Wimbledon in the Papa John’s Trophy despite Pompey’s injury problems. Image: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages
“We only selected the fit and available players, although it was also not a night where we could abuse the academy.
“I always play to win, but it was not an easy night for us with very difficult conditions above our heads, especially in the second half.
“We also have the game on Friday and a very small squad at the moment, although we haven’t been able to use the Academy players as much as we would have liked because they have an FA Youth Cup game on Thursday.
“But we play to win every game, and we did.
“We’re splitting the game between 10 players, which was our plan and it’s not ideal if I’m being honest, but this is the schedule we’ve been given and we all understand that it’s crazy.
“We are a good team and we wanted to win this competition and go through, so we had to play against a team that can do that, and we are happy with the result.”
Zesh Rehman’s Academy team hosts Three Bridges at Fratton Park on Thursday night.
As a result, defensemen Josh Dockerill and Malachi Osei-Owusu were the only members on Tuesday night’s roster.
Even then, Dockerill replaced Michael Morrison on his first-team debut after the hour.
Cowley added: “I think we played well in the first half, we were able to play with real energy and determination for the first 25 minutes and we made a lot of changes in that time, although we probably weren’t as reckless as we needed to be.
“If we had been a little more sober, the second goal would have made the night a lot easier for us.
“The second half was difficult, it was played in a strong wind and it was difficult underfoot. We can play better, but we’re happy to qualify, and that’s one of the two important things we did this week.”