Awford admits Pompey ‘anxiety’

Burton denied Pompey victory with a late equaliser. Picture: Joe Pepler
Burton denied Pompey victory with a late equaliser. Picture: Joe Pepler
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The two faces of Pompey showed themselves again – this time costing the team what would have been an impressive victory.

Andy Awford insisted there were no new instructions at half-time, no tweaking of the game plan, and no calls to retreat and defend.

But it was a different Blues side who emerged from the Fratton Park dressing room for the second half against Burton Albion on Saturday.

For 20 minutes preceding the interval, Awford’s men produced one of their finest attacking spells of a disappointing season to go in at the break 1-0 up.

Jed Wallace grabbed the opener and there were more opportunities to add to it as the hosts swarmed over the second-placed Brewers.

Then half-time arrived – and the Blues’ goalscoring threats subsequently dried up.

Darragh Lenihan levelled for the visitors seven minutes from time to claim a 1-1 draw, with some boos from the home fans greeting the final whistle.

Awford admits anxiety among his players may have played a part.

But the Blues boss is adamant he didn’t blunt their attacking intentions.

‘We scored a great goal, really good combination play down the left and Jed is there to put it away nicely,’ said Awford.

‘I’m just a bit disappointed we didn’t take enough chances in that first-half spell when I thought we were fantastic.

‘The message to them (the players) at half-time was don’t sit back, go and get the second. We wanted to play on the front foot and not invite it.

‘We told them to keep going, there was nothing about settling for the 1-0 lead.

‘I actually thought we started the second half very well – their keeper produced a really good save to deny Adam Webster.

‘I have been out there when it’s 1-0 to us (as a player) and if it goes two or three nil then the confidence levels rise, but you could feel a little bit of anxiety there.

‘I am sure everybody wants us to win, and I can understand that. The players are no different, they are human beings so maybe the odd pass went astray.

‘But the effort, the desire levels and the performance levels were good again so we were pleased.

‘When you go away from home, a point is always a good one, especially coming to Fratton Park. Most will take that because the home form in general is very good.

‘Burton will be quite satisfied with a point I would think – and we are a little bit frustrated we didn’t take all three.’

Pompey are 16th in League Two – three points above the relegation zone.

And Awford was disappointed with the manner of the equaliser which deprived his side of three timely points.

He added: ‘It was the first time we didn’t have enough bodies in and around the edge of the box centrally.

‘Burton play very narrow and we knew that. We needed bodies defensively around that area and it was the only one time we came unstuck.

‘It was a good finish, you have got to say that – 22 yards out and right in the bottom corner.

‘But we have given as good as we’ve got in the last three games and look forward to Southend visiting on Saturday.’