Pompey manager’s frustration at missing spark

Mansfield open the scoring at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler
Mansfield open the scoring at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford admitted he was at a loss to explain the missing spark against Mansfield.

The Pompey boss acknowledged his team’s first-half display was simply not good enough in Saturday’s 1-1 draw.

And he will today subject them to a video nasty of where it went wrong.

The result made it four league draws on the bounce for Pompey as they drop to 12th in League Two.

Pompey were not at the races for the first 45 minutes and then fell behind immediately after the restart.

Paul Robinson’s leveller after 70 minutes sparked a late charge but the Blues could not find a winner.

Awford knows his team came up short for quality in an honest assessment of what unfolded.

He said: ‘I honestly don’t know why the spark wasn’t there.

‘If I had the answer I’d be a multi-millionaire and the manager of Real Madrid.

‘It’s happened to me as a player and you ask yourself why? We prepared as we would for any game.

‘But what I will say is we will keep trying to get a balanced performance.

‘I can’t really remember a shot of note in the first half.

‘It was so dull and not a proper Fratton Park experience. I’ve never known it to be like that here.

‘I don’t like it and I don’t want it to happen again.

‘You have to be braver in possession and want the ball.

‘I didn’t think that was there in the first half.

‘You can’t run from the edge of your penalty box like Pele in Escape to Victory.

‘It was constructive at half-time. If they don’t run around they will get it but that wasn’t the case.

‘There were no tea cups. They give you everything.

‘We didn’t pass the ball well enough, we didn’t pass it sharply and make angles.

‘It’s not always the person on the ball who’s at fault. If they’ve got no-one to pass to, what can they do with it?

‘The effort was there. There’s no problem with their effort and desire. They just weren’t good enough.’

Pompey now travel to Bury, who are being touted as promotion contenders, on Saturday.

Awford will ensure his players are aware of their shortcomings against Mansfield as they assess their performance and prepare for the trip to Gigg Lane.

He said: ‘We’re back in today and will work hard.

‘We will have a good week building up to Bury.

‘We will do video analysis on the game.

‘You can do too much sometimes but it’s important they see the frailties in the first half. That’s important to put right.

‘When it’s like Saturday it’s important to show them.

‘We’re doing it to help, it’s not to beat them up.

‘We have to make sure they know what we’re worried about from the first half.

‘We have to improve – and we will.’