AWFORD’S BATTLE CRY IS ECHOED
ANDY AWFORD got exactly what he wanted and more from everyone at Portsmouth after claiming the Fratton Park faithful frightened the life out of Hartlepool.
The stand-in boss called on the home faithful to make life uncomfortable for Hartlepool and how they did it in a dream start.
With his players fired up and the crowd raucous, Pompey were ahead in the second minute and had a penalty to double their advantage two minutes later.
That Hartlepool keeper Andy Rafferty saved Ryan Taylor’s penalty but it didn’t matter in the overall picture, as the tap in by right-back Adam Webster was enough to win it.
A second successive win put his side five points clear of the drop zone and Awford insisted the crowd has been the stars of the show.
“It’s a dream start, I would not have wanted to be a Hartlepool player in that atmosphere, in the first 10-15 minutes. Everyone bought into it – players, staff, supporters and that’s everyone pulling in the right direction,’’ he said.
“We got the win and that’s what it’s about for me – that’s Pompey. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up, that’s the benchmark on the pitch and that’s the benchmark off it as well.
“If we get that in the next two home games, we can have the same outcome. It’s a special day.
“The relationship I have with the supporters is fantastic. I know it, the players are getting it and they’ve got it – they were all terrific. My only gripe is we didn’t score more and kill the game off.’’
The dream start arrived when a deep Ricky Holmes free-kick was headed at goal by defender Jack Whatmough, Rafferty saved and Webster tapped in.
He only returned from a loan spell at Aldershot on Thursday and this was his first start of the season.
“I got Adam back from Aldershot and we managed to keep it quiet that he was coming back. I thank them for that,’’ said Awford. “I didn’t want Hartlepool knowing and we will take any advantage we can use. He’s gone out there, scored and I’m delighted for him, he’s a great kid.We are still five points in front of the bottom two, we keep going. If we play at that intensity we can reach higher.’’
Other chances on goal for both sides were scarce. Pompey’s high energy game scared Pools in the firsthalf, who never got started and have now lost four games in a row.
Boss Colin Cooper said: “First-half was not good enough, not acceptable. Second-half we came out and stood our ground a bit better and had a bit more huff and puff in their half.
“I expected them to come out flying, in front of their home fans, seeking points to stay up and they had a good win last week. Why wouldn’t they? To defend in the way we did wasn’t good enough and we
did it again two minutes later.”
POACHER: Adam Webster scores the opening goal
SPOT OF BOTHER: Ryan Taylor misses a penalty
STAR MAN MICHA