Aw­ford’s keep­ing a lid on the fes­tiv­i­ties

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Dan Brett

PORTSMOUTH care­taker man­ager Andy Aw­ford made it four wins in a row un­der his stew­ard­ship by beat­ing Bris­tol Rovers, but pledged to keep sur­vival cel­e­bra­tions on hold un­til the maths is done.

Adam Web­ster, Ryan Tay­lor and Wes Fog­den all scored to give Aw­ford’s men the lead three times at Frat­ton Park, with Matt Harrold re­ply­ing twice be­fore the home side held out.

Portsmouth are now seven points clear of the drop zone with three games to go, a fine turn­around from where the club lan­guished be­fore Aw­ford took over.

But with Pom­pey still not math­e­mat­i­cally safe, Aw­ford is re­fus­ing to pop the cham­pagne corks just yet – though the bot­tles will un­doubt­edly be on ice.

He said:“We played well, we were good de­fen­sively and Trevor [Carson] pulled off a num­ber of saves, and we had a chat at half-time about a few things and we were the bet­ter side in the sec­ond pe­riod.

“I thought that we de­served to win the game and on the sec­ond half chances that we cre­ated, I’m left feel­ing pleased about the char­ac­ter that we’ve shown. We’re not math­e­mat­i­cally safe and I know that, and we go into each game know­ing that we can’t cel­e­brate un­til sur­vival is se­cured.”

The hosts had huffed and puffed early on, and fi­nally made their en­deav­our count as Web- ster struck a well-placed strike into Steve Milden­hall’s bot­tom-left hand cor­ner on 11 min­utes.

Honours were even on 22 min­utes, though, af­ter Harrold’s strike de­flected in off Bondz N’Gala.

Danny Hol­lands’ 40thminute ef­fort was then drilled into a melee of bod­ies and Ryan Tay­lor was on hand to edge Pom­pey back ahead.

But just 40 sec­onds passed be­fore Rovers – also look­ing to dodge the drop – drew level again as Brown’s low cross was met by Harrold’s div­ing header. How­ever, Aw­ford’s men made it three on 71 min­utes, as Fog­den was on hand to tap in fol­low­ing ex­cel­lent work by Holmes on the left wing.

The de­feat means Rovers are now one of three sides – along with Wy­combe and sec­ond-bot­tom Northamp­ton – on 47 points but man­ager Dar­rell Clarke be­lieves they will sur­vive.

He said:“I asked the boys to put some more pride back into the shirt and I think we did that.We were a lit­tle un­for­tu­nate with in­juries but we’ve got to come and try to win foot­ball matches.

“I want to keep it pos­i­tive. We’re ob­vi­ously dis­ap­pointed with the goals as we know that we should do bet­ter but we’ve got to be pos­i­tive and move on.”

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STAR MAN RICKY HOLME

S Portsm

outh

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