Awford: Togetherness made the difference

Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford pointed to the togetherness surging through Pompey as the key factor behind their defiant 2-1 victory over Cambridge.

After Ryan Taylor had given Pompey the lead, the Blues were reduced to 10 men shortly before the break as Adam Webster’s moment of madness saw him sent off.

A bizarre own goal extended Pompey’s lead just past the hour mark before Kwesi Appiah pulled one back for Cambridge soon afterwards.

Under pressure for most of the second half, the Blues held firm with a display of real desire and commitment as they were roared on by a crowd of nearly 17,000 to claim a first win of the new League Two campaign.

But Awford savoured the connection between the team and the supporters, who played their part in equal measure in a collective effort.

Awford said: ‘The effort the players put in was superb.

‘I have spoken about the supporters and the backing we get but they will always back us when they see that type of commitment. The two go together.

‘If you get the levels of desire to play for the shirt that we got, they will sing like they did for us.

‘I had goosebumps when they were turning up the volume in the second half.

‘That’s what this place is all about and I’ve said it a million times.

‘The fans know what they will get from me, I know what I will get from them and it’s my job to make sure the players understand that.

‘I spoke to a couple of the new boys afterwards.

‘They said “you told me what it was going to be like but I didn’t expect that.”

‘It’s still an eye-opener.

‘I wanted to stand there and clap with the fans – I think I even joined in at one point!

‘The support we get is frightening but the players played their part in that.

‘As long as they keep doing that, the supporters will keep giving us that sort of backing.

‘But it’s a group mentality. That’s what I am trying to create at this club.’

It was a 10th game unbeaten for Awford since taking over towards the end of last term and he admitted it had been his most satisfying, after playing so long with 10 men.

He said: ‘It’s probably up there as my best win.

‘In the first home league game of the season, there is always that expectation.

‘We could have used it as an excuse after going down to 10 men but I wasn’t having that and neither were the players.

‘We have the mentality to be strong.’

After an unbeaten start to the new season, Awford has warned against complacency ahead of tomorrow night’s home clash with Northampton.

He said: ‘It’s step by step.

‘It’s a massively long season and some people will be saying we are off to a flyer with four points out of six.

‘But we’ve played two games and we need to make sure we are consistent over the course of the season.’

Watch highlights of Pompey v Cambridge here