Andy Awford praised Nigel Atangana’s match-changing impact against Mansfield Town.
Atangana proved a catalyst for Pompey’s comeback against the Stags on Saturday.
The midfielder entered the fray in the 68th minute along with Patrick Agyemang.
Pompey were level two minutes later as the 25-year-old teed up Paul Robinson for his goal.
Awford believes his introduction made a big difference to the game.
He said: ‘We gave a message to them at half-time: Don’t wait for your mate – be the one to do it.
‘We got that response from Nigel when he came on.
‘He got hold of the game and took it by the scruff of the neck. That lifted the other players around him.
‘We’re delighted that I can make changes and they can impact the game.’
Awford made two switches against Mansfield from the team who drew 0-0 at York.
That saw Ryan Taylor and Johnny Ertl come in for Jack Whatmough and Craig Westcarr.
Westcarr was taken out of the starting line-up after six games without a goal, paving the way for Michael Drennan to be paired with Taylor.
Awford admitted that partnership didn’t work as Pompey stuttered in the first half.
He said: ‘I just felt Craig needed a rest from it.
‘I wanted the physical presence of Taylor and I felt Drennan may feed off him a little bit better than Westie on the shoulder.
‘Tayls holds it up and then late on it was Pat on with Jed in behind.
‘It wasn’t quite right with what we went with, so we had to change it.
‘We went with a different system in the second half and it was better.’
Awford took heart from the quality of Pompey’s leveller which saw Robinson convert a clever move which freed Atangana to reach the byline and cross.
He said: ‘The goal was excellent.
‘It was a second-phase corner and Nicky Shorey gives you that bit of quality.
‘Nicky has rolled it in and it was a good ball from Nigel and thankfully Robbo was there to stroke it home.’
As much as Awford was pleased with Pompey’s goal, he was frustrated with the manner in which Mansfield scored 57 seconds after the restart.
But he felt he couldn’t knock his players for the commitment they showed.
He said: ‘We switched off from a throw-in and we’re obviously not happy with that.
‘The horrible side of the game, the effort, the tackles and second balls I’m happy with. The desire and application was there.
– JORDAN CROSS