Pompey legend’s pride at teenagers’ impact

122969_CRAWLEY_PFC_9/9/12''Ashley Harris celebrates his goal.  Crawley Town FC V Portsmouth at Broadfield Stadium, Crawley.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (122969-609)
122969_CRAWLEY_PFC_9/9/12''Ashley Harris celebrates his goal. Crawley Town FC V Portsmouth at Broadfield Stadium, Crawley.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (122969-609)
Pompey's Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

Evans: Player talk has lifted Pompey form

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There was nobody more proud at the Broadfield Stadium.

When Adam Webster combined with Ashley Harris, the duo put Pompey on the road to a 3-0 victory.

The home-grown pair and Academy team-mates are starting to make an important impact in first-team football these days.

Both substitutes at Crawley, their entrance helped change the match.

Watching from the stands on that day was Andy Awford.

As Academy manager, the Blues legend nurtured them and, by their own admission, has delivered a few rollickings as well.

Awford was back in the press box on Sunday, resuming his former duties with local radio for one match only.

Perfect timing to see his teenage pupils continue to blossom in senior surroundings.

Harris and Webster are leading the current crop of promising players to have emerged from the youth set-up since Awford’s arrival in February 2011.

Regardless of that Crawley contribution, they are once again expected to be on the bench for Walsall’s visit.

And Awford is delighted with their progress during such first tentative steps into Appleton’s side.

He said: ‘It was great for me to be at Sunday’s game and witness that.

‘I was proud and pleased at the significant contribution the pair of them made for Pompey.

‘Adam crossing for Ash to score was lovely to see – and the sight of them also celebrating together was special.

‘Being an attacker, Ash is going to grab the headlines when he comes on and does quite well as an impact substitute but I thought Adam also did very well, looking comfortable in possession.

‘He is actually still a youth team player and could still play for us – I wouldn’t think so, though!

‘Steve Cotterill liked him and promoted him into first-team training quite quickly.

‘When Cotterill left the first thing I did was advise the club to sign him on a long-term contract in case he came back for him. They did that. Michael Appleton then came in and has also picked him, meaning Adam has been involved with the first team for nearly a year now.

‘The lad has got to carry on and show the same hunger, drive and desire to learn and give it everything.

‘As for Ash, he has got his own Fratton end song now which makes me laugh.

‘When I came in as Academy manager we needed to give him some direction and allow him to express himself so he could function within a team unit.

‘We got it right with him and he has taken it from there and shown what he has got.

‘He has got to keep knuckling down and getting on with it, though.’

In the Capital One Cup clash at Plymouth, nine other current and former Academy players featured for Appleton.

None have appeared since – yet Harris and Webster continue to impress. Awford added: ‘Best of all is Ash and Adam are in the first team on merit.

‘That wasn’t quite the case for the Plymouth game, the Academy lads had to play out of necessity more than anything.

‘Now six games in, Ash and Adam are still part of Michael’s squad and making appearances here and there.

‘Hopefully a few of the others can go on and follow in their footsteps.’