Richie Barker praised his Pompey troops after a winning response to his public ‘kick up the backside’.
The 38-year-old celebrated a maiden win as Blues boss with a 1-0 triumph over Dagenham & Redbridge yesterday.
The recalled Romain Padovani grabbed the decisive goal, with a 44th-minute header registering a first win in 10 matches for the Fratton Park outfit.
It was a welcome reaction from the Pompey squad after Barker had launched a stinging attack following a torrid 2-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers the previous outing.
And he felt they were harsh words which had the desired effect on Boxing Day.
Barker said: ‘It was a fantastic effort and the players showed a real desire to make sure they didn’t concede at the end. I think there are one or two needed a bit of a kick up the backside, to be fair.
‘One or two had been going through the motions for the last five months.
‘Maybe it’s not the players’ fault, to be honest.
‘Players just get on with it and do whatever they are asked to do. It turns out it hasn’t been good enough.
‘Maybe one or two needed a bit of a help along the way.
‘After Bristol Rovers I didn’t have a go at them again because it’s also my job to tell them what I think to pick them up as well.
‘I told them what I thought and now I will equally praise them – and I must admit I thought they were fantastic.
‘The reaction to it was great and they did everything we asked them to do.
‘We set out with a game plan and they stuck to it.
‘It wasn’t a very comfortable last 10 minutes, if I am being honest. But I asked Trevor (Carson) and he didn’t make one save, which is a real bonus.’
Barker changed his formation for the Fratton Park fixture, employing five in midfield.
That included Padovani – making his first league start since August – while Thery Racon and Ricky Holmes were also given recalls.
As a result of the switch, Pompey dominated possession, particularly during the first half.
Chances were few for both sides but the hosts were largely comfortable against a Daggers side who were well dominated throughout the game. Barker said: ‘The first-half I thought we were the better side footballing-wise.
‘In the second half we dropped a little bit deep and started to panic a little bit in possession, which is understandable – we were desperate for the win.
‘But I thought the players’ determination and desire to make sure they didn’t lose the game was fantastic.
‘We wanted to try to keep the ball and there is a way I want the game to be played and it is going to take us a while to get to that.
‘We need to win by hook or by crook at the minute but once we get going we want to dominate possession.
‘Now we have got to do it for the whole game rather than just one half.’