Awford: Blues’ steel is back

Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford is backing his Pompey side to show the steel they rediscovered at Yeovil in their Burton Albion trial by TV.

Awford was delighted with the Blues’ performance in the midweek Johnstone’s Paint Trophy 3-1 win as they stood up to the physical battle before then going on to claim victory.

But after his men failed to meet those standards in the home defeat to Newport County last weekend, the boss believes they now know exactly what is expected of them as they travel to face the early league leaders.

Awford said: ‘Burton have a different way of playing but we still have to be ready for that physical and mental side of it – and we are.

‘I read and heard that some people thought the first half was a bit of a non-event at Yeovil. I thought it was brilliant. They did exactly what I wanted them to do.

‘We earned the right in that first half to do what we wanted to do in the second half.

‘Against Newport, we didn’t do that.

‘We will need to be gritty, strong, steely and all of those things that we’ve shown away at Oxford and Yeovil.

‘We will need bundles of that at Burton.

‘Then we will play when we have earned that right.

‘The lads know now what is expected. If they didn’t before, they certainly do now.’

Although the first-half display at Huish Park was about making it difficult for their opponents, Awford believes successful teams need that foundation before they can play the more free-flowing football.

He said: ‘The more you do the horrible side of the game, the more you have the ball.

‘Then the flair comes through.

‘We needed to show some grit and we needed to show we weren’t going to get out-muscled.

‘They had to stand up to it, they had to be men to show they could do it and they did.

‘That was important for me to see.

‘I knew it wasn’t going to be open and free-flowing in the first half.

‘We needed that grit to return to the team and we got that.

‘But that foundation always has to be there.

‘I don’t care who you are. Whether you are Man United, Real Madrid, Hereford United or Portsmouth, you’ve got to earn the right to play.

‘That comes from a desire to win a game of football.’

Burton will present a different proposition to both Newport and Yeovil.

They have had a productive start to the campaign.

But Awford is in bullish mood ahead of the televised fixture at the Pirelli Stadium tomorrow (12.15pm).

He said: ‘I think it will be a really good open game.

‘They are flying and they will be full of confidence.

‘But we have got good players and we are in good form.

‘Everybody is confident and we are all looking forward to it.’