Awford delight at return of Pompey spirit

James Dunne revels in his goal against Dagenham & Redbridge Picture: Joe Pepler
James Dunne revels in his goal against Dagenham & Redbridge Picture: Joe Pepler
Kal Naismith congratulates Ben Close for his goal Picture: Joe Pepler

Blackpool 2-3 Pompey: They said what?

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The fight, the bite and the passion have returned to Pompey’s play.

Now Andy Awford wants his side to maintain their scrapping spirit for tomorrow’s visit of Wycombe.

The Blues boss admits he was rendered stunned, having watched his troops surrender in the 2-0 defeat at Southend last weekend.

It represented a low point in the season so far, prompting Awford to pledge there would not be a repeat for the midweek visit of Dagenham & Redbridge.

Pompey’s response was a 3-0 triumph over the Daggers – a result which ended three successive defeats in League Two.

Just as crucial in Awford’s eyes was the gutsy manner in which that scoreline was achieved, following that Roots Hall humbling.

‘The shape was different against Dagenham, obviously, which I think suited us the other night,’ said Awford.

‘For 60 minutes against Southend I was fine, the bit I didn’t like was when we went behind there was no reaction. That really, really irritated me.

‘When things go against you – on the football pitch or off the football pitch – you don’t just roll over and let it happen.

‘You get up and you fight and, if I am being blunt and honest, we didn’t.

‘The other night when things didn’t quite go our way and Dagenham had a bit of possession, I didn’t see too many people roll over. I saw a bit of fight, I saw some sleeves rolled up, I saw some guts and I saw some people wanting to win a football match.

‘That was the difference for me.

‘On Tuesday night, what I saw was a team that reacted to situations, that encouraged each other, dug each other out and we played at desire levels a lot higher.

‘They still tried to play against Southend, of course they did. It’s just that after Southend scored it was the first time I stood there and thought “They don’t believe”.

‘The belief had gone with one header from Barry Corr.

‘I didn’t want that on Tuesday and we didn’t. There were times in the game, especially 15 minutes in the second half, that Dagenham pushed us back and passed the ball really well – to be fair to them.

‘But we stood up to it, we dug in and got a reaction from the players, which is great and what we wanted.

‘Now we have to maintain that tomorrow.’

Pompey will face a Wycombe side who are currently third in League Two.

It represents a remarkable turnaround for Gareth Ainsworth’s side, having avoided relegation from the Football League on the final day of last season via goal difference.

The Blues head into the fixture buoyed by the victory over the Daggers – and Awford also believes he has learnt a lesson.

He added: ‘I remember the game against Southend at home last season when they went down to 10 men and I got it wrong tactically.

‘I am stood there and said to myself after that “If that happens again you must do X” – and I did X the other night when it happened to Dagenham and am pleased it worked.

‘Tactically, we were a bit better the other night when they had a man sent off, which is obviously my job.’