Pompey 3 Morecambe 0

Jed Wallace's flying header makes it 2-0 to Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler
Jed Wallace's flying header makes it 2-0 to Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler
Samantha Quayle. Picture: Jordan Hampton

Flying start for Pompey with Cardiff swept aside

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The actions were deafening, no need for Andy Awford’s words.

The Blues boss’ voice was notably absent from the Fratton Park air during his side’s second-half onslaught.

Remaining seated in the dugout after the break, instead Alan McLoughlin and Paul Hardyman were pushed into barking duties from the technical area.

Similarly, Awford opted against conducting his post-match interviews with the media.

Once again, his trusty first-team coaches were called upon to carry out the addressing on behalf of the management.

For the first time in 31 matches in charge – either as caretaker or permanent – the 42-year-old chose to hand over such responsibilities.

Not that Pompey’s manager was required to talk, the performance of his team against Morecambe said all that was required.

Shouted out loud and clear to the 14,349 gathered, this is what the current set-up is capable of achieving, as the previously eighth-placed visitors were brutally dismantled.

It cannot be ignored that the doubts had been creeping in among some Pompey fans following successive televised defeats at Plymouth and Aldershot.

Humiliating results in their own different ways, it had been a week to haunt the increasingly-infuriated Awford.

But how he faced the press on the Recreation Ground pitch on Wednesday, bristling with passion and fire while dripping raw honesty.

An inspirational rallying cry in the aftermath of overseeing a first FA Cup defeat to non-league opposition in the Blues’ 116-year history.

No mumbled excuses amid the embarrassed shuffling of feet in a self-preservation exercise to minimise the impact of criticism hurtling in his direction.

This was staring the beast in the eyes, unblinking, unflinching while himself breathing fire.

Then Saturday came.

Awford generated the response he craved as Morecambe were trampled over in the stampede for the players to impress, particularly at their favourite home.

The playing surface may be deteriorating at Fratton Park presently, but those positive results certainly aren’t in another emphatic home victory.

If anything, the scoreline considerably flattered the Shrimps, Ryan Taylor the over-riding culprit when provided with a gaping goal to net in.

During Pompey’s dominant second half, three times he failed to score with only Scott Davies to beat, the keeper getting touches to the ball on each occasion.

Fortunately for the striker, the hosts were already two goals clear and demonstrating that such an advantage was going to be comfortable enough to secure victory.

On another occasion, Craig Westcarr contrived to place the ball into the side netting from inside the box following a Matt Fish pass – a debutant along with fellow loanee Marcus Bean.

Then there was Jed Wallace’s wild left-foot air shot after Miles Storey delivered another wonderful cross from the left flank.

Meanwhile, Dan Butler drew an excellent low stop with a first-time shot at the end of a flowing counter-attack following a corner to the visitors.

Yet it would be immensely harsh to dwell too long on such moments.

Saturday was an impressive display with three well-taken goals capping the assertiveness of the hosts.

The show staged by Awford’s men should be applauded long and hard, particularly considering the circumstances heading into the fixture.

Fitting, then, that Wallace should be at the heartbeat of the occasion – the player Awford brought to Fratton Park as a 17-year-old from Lewes.

Still a youngster but the midfielder has long been an instrumental performer under a variety of managers, growing up in the first-team.

Against Morecambe, he took his season’s tally to 10 with two well-taken goals in the second half, both conjured up by the destructive Storey.

Already a superb return from the right-sided midfielder who has now scored an undeniably healthy 23 times in 95 appearances for the Blues.

His first arrived on 54 minutes, a flying header to meet Storey’s clever cross to cap a magnificent move down the left flank which brought the crowd to its feet.

Wallace’s first response was to run over and congratulate the architect, in the knowledge it was a goal carved out by the brilliance of the delivery.

The second – and number 10 for the season so far – was also aided by Storey, this time the goalscorer taking a touch with his right foot before calmly finishing past Davies.

A lesson to some of his less clinical team-mates on the day, not that they needed reminding, that 3-0 should have been reached long before the 88th minute.

From the 11th minute the Blues had been in firm control, an advantage they never hinted at surrendering despite the curious time-wasting and irritable antics of their opposition.

Westcarr had broken the deadlock in front of the Fratton end, pouncing with a smart left-foot finish after an initial right-foot shot was blocked.

That’s goal number five for the striker, who has largely struggled to convince the supporters, yet continues to have the faith of the manager who recruited him in the summer.

Indeed, it was a good all-round match from the ex-Walsall man who suggested he may yet strike up a decent understanding with Taylor, whose own excellent touch was overshadowed by his profligacy in front of goal.

A one-two between the pair put Taylor clean through on 59 minutes, only for Davies to get the slightest of touches to nick the ball behind for a corner.

Then on 74 minutes a Westcarr flick-on once again provided the former Bristol City man with a glimpse of goal and just Davies to beat.

The Morecambe keeper blocked the first attempt.

He then thwarted Taylor’s left-footed follow-up, much to the disbelief of those present within the ground.

Still, it was a day for Pompey fans to wear smiles following a thoroughly depressing week.

As for Awford, at the final whistle he shook hands with everyone who came in close proximity – including opposition players and the match officials.

With that he turned to applaud the Fratton end, no grand gesture and nothing lingering.

A low profile from the manager whose team spoke for him.