Awford’s keeping a lid on the festivities
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