The day football took back seat to Awford future

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They were present at the reserve fixture – certainly physically but clearly not mentally.

A bumper turn-out braved the chilly conditions to venture down to Furze Lane yesterday afternoon.

Ben Close wins a tackle for Pompey Reserves. Picture: Colin Farmery

Ben Close wins a tackle for Pompey Reserves. Picture: Colin Farmery

Yet many people’s minds were undoubtedly elsewhere.

The talk was all about Andy Awford and his Pompey future – a situation that was being addressed elsewhere in the city.

Regardless of the clash with AFC Wimbledon taking place in front of those in attendance, there were more important matters unfolding.

The deliberating had begun at Verisona’s Lakeside offices from early morning and comfortably stretched into the afternoon.

Board members were having their say on the Pompey slump which had left them languishing in 18th spot and well adrift of their League Two play-off aspirations.

At the centre was Awford, the manager who lead the Blues to defeat in chairman Iain McInnes’ ‘must-win’ game against Southend at the weakened.

Pressure was piled on the 42-year-old when some fans chanted ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ in his direction following the substitution of Andy Barcham in that game against the Shrimpers.

Then at the final whistle on Saturday the boos arrived – a familiar sound over the past few months.

Cue yesterday’s inquest into Awford’s Pompey position.

Regardless, there was football to be played between the reserves and the Wombles at the University of Portsmouth yesterday afternoon, with the manager’s son, Nick Awford, among the Blues line-up.

Inevitably, Awford senior was conspicuous by his absence.

Also missing from the crowd were chief executive Mark Catlin and McInnes – regular attendees at Pompey home matches in the Final Third Development League this season.

The pair ventured to take in a 2-2 draw at Oxford back in October and had been pencilled in to take in this latest encounter.

Joining them away from the sidelines was assistant manager Gary Waddock, who had earlier taken the first-team for training.

After all, the quartet were involved in other commitments elsewhere, namely debating the way forward for a club so woefully underachieving.

In their absence it took an 89th-minute penalty to deny Paul Hardyman’s side victory, following Mark Phillips’ comical early own goal.

Not that the shivering fans were too focused on the football on offer, with the issue of Awford dominating the vast majority of conversations.

Unsurprisingly it was the hot topic, with opinions varied yet strong on what has developed into such an emotive issue among the Fratton faithful.

The 1-1 draw offered merely the occasional distraction, the performance of the man in charge of the first team was the true match of the day.

Of course, the result everybody was eagerly awaiting didn’t emerge until long after the final whistle.

Awford is staying, the board have displayed their faith in the manager they appointed 10 months earlier.

The vote of confidence had arrived.