Awford: Reality check for Pompey

James Dunne is brought down in a physical encounter with Newport. Picture: Joe Pepler

James Dunne is brought down in a physical encounter with Newport. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Andy Awford believes Pompey’s home loss to Newport County could yet prove to be a blessing in disguise.

While the Blues have made an encouraging start to the League Two season, the 1-0 defeat perhaps served a useful purpose in keeping ambitions in check, with some starting to believe Pompey would cruise to promotion.

Andy Sandell’s fortuitous 84th-minute winner grabbed all three points for the Welsh club in a game that looked destined for a 0-0 draw for most of the afternoon.

But the Blues boss took full responsibility for the defeat and felt it was evidence Pompey will need to learn how to deal with sides who adopt a similar style to Newport’s rugged, physical and direct approach.

Awford said: ‘It’s my fault – I take responsibility for it. I pick the team and I make the changes.

‘But I said to Alan McLoughlin, maybe getting beaten so early in the season will show the board, the players, the staff and the supporters that we’re not just going to have it all our own way.

‘I don’t want to lose, of course I don’t.

‘But it might do us a favour and hopefully we can go on to have a fantastic season from here.

‘I know every game we play will be a right battle. That’s the way it is.

‘We have all seen enough of this league to know what’s coming.

‘It was exactly what we were expecting from Newport.

‘We knew what was coming from them. The players have had every bit of information they needed.

‘We knew it would bitty, scrappy, physical and the game would be slow.

‘So it was hard to get that momentum.

‘But we didn’t win enough second balls in that first half to get that momentum going.

‘Let’s face it, what Newport do is what the majority of the teams do in this league.

‘We need to learn that quickly.’

Although it was a disappointing performance from Pompey, it was Awford’s first league defeat in 12 games at the Fratton Park helm.

And it remains an encouraging start to the campaign with 10 points taken from a possible 15.

But the former skipper is now looking for a positive reaction from everyone connected to the club.

He said: ‘We all need to react in the right way.

‘It’s not just the players – it is all of us. Myself included.

‘The board, the staff, the players and the supporters have all got to understand we are not just going to win every single game.

‘It’s not going to happen.

‘But let’s see how we all react now.

‘Hopefully, it’s a positive reaction.’

Pompey travel to Yeovil Town in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tomorrow night.

Awford’s men then face a trip to early League Two pace-setters Burton Albion on Sunday.