Life after Awford begins in defeat for Blues

Danny Hollands, right, battles for the ball in Pompey's 1-0 defeat at Stevenage tonight    Picture: Joe Pepler
Danny Hollands, right, battles for the ball in Pompey's 1-0 defeat at Stevenage tonight Picture: Joe Pepler

The post-Andy Awford era ended in defeat for Pompey as they went down to a 1-0 loss at Stevenage.

Gary Waddock stepped up to the role as caretaker manager for the game – a position he’ll assume for the rest of the season – but he was unable to engineer a morale-boosting win for the Blues, with their hosts coming out on top at the Lamex Stadium.

Tom Pett’s finally-executed third-minute strike proved enough to separate the teams and keep Boro in the play-off places.

However, Pompey will feel unlucky not to have returned home with something to show for their efforts – especially after an encouraging second-half performance that saw them have a real go at their hosts.

Such a display was needed to lift the travelling Fratton faithful, who endured an opening 45 minutes from their team that lacked any real quality.

Although, Stevenage led from the opening minutes, they hardly looked like a team on the cusp of the play-offs.

But the Blues made life easy for them, with only a tame Matt Tubbs header and Nigel Atangana’s looping shot their only efforts of note on the home goal.

The introduction of substitute Craig Westcarr for the injured Ryan Taylor livened things up for Pompey as the half drew to a close.

And it was his enthusiasm that sparked a greater showing in the second half as Pompey attempted to get back on level terms.

The substitute’s excellent ball on 48 minutes presented Dan Butler with a chance – but the youngster fired straight at keeper Chris Day.

The striker was then ruled offside when it looked like he had just Day to beat.

Meanwhile, Nyron Nosworthy had a header cleared off the line on 56 minutes.

Chris Beardsley and Chris Whelpdale had chances to extend Stevenage’s lead midway through the second period.

But it was the Blues who looked most likely to register the game’s next goal, with Westcarr thinking he had, before being ruled offside again.

Atangana and Nosworthy made Day work in the latter stages, but the hosts held on to claim a narrow win and add to Pompey’s problems.