Awfs: This is just beginning

Andy Awford acknowledges the support of the travelling Pompey fans. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Awford acknowledges the support of the travelling Pompey fans. Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford savoured a critical survival win at Newport County and vowed: This is just the start.

Awford’s tenure as Pompey manager got off to the best possible start on Saturday, as his team picked up a 2-1 win at Rodney Parade.

That gave the Blues some breathing space in their fight to stay in the Football League.

The victory ended a six-game winless run and pulled Pompey five points clear of the drop zone.

Awford allowed his men to bathe in the afterglow of a big win.

But he warned it’s back to business this week as the battle to keeping Pompey in League Two continues.

Awford said: ‘A lot of people who represent this club’s values were there on Saturday.

‘People like me, Paul Hardyman and Macca (Alan McLoughlin).

‘It’s about letting the players know what is expected and getting it over to them.

‘They need to know what is expected when they play for this football club.

‘They knew on Saturday and look what happened.

‘We are together and we are all pulling in the same direction, so we will get there.

‘But we are where we are, so we need to climb the table and push on.

‘I have to keep us in the league over six games.

‘If we don’t sort it out now there is no tomorrow. So we need to get on with it.

‘We need to stay in the league.

‘That result goes a long way towards achieving it. We are not there yet, not by a long way.

‘We’re not doing cartwheels and having an open-top-bus parade.

‘We are where we are. But we have our feet on the ground and have to go out there and beat Hartlepool now.

‘We have five points between us and the bottom two, so that gives us a little gap.

‘We will enjoy the win but we have to get back in this week, work hard and go again.’

Awford believes playing with a greater freedom paid dividends for his side as they pulled Newport County apart, particularly in the first half at Rodney Parade.

He highlighted he wanted his men to enjoy pulling on the Pompey shirt and to play with a smile.

‘They were allowed to play with more freedom and it worked. I’m delighted about that,’ said Awford.

‘We have to smile. We have to be able to have a laugh and a joke.

‘We have to be able to have that enjoyment and be allowed to smile.

‘If you can’t smile during the game there’s something wrong.

‘I want to be able to enjoy the football. I want us play and work hard and compete and enjoy the games.

‘We need to enjoy closing people down, defending and scoring good goals like we did on Saturday.

‘We did and that is fantastic.’