Pompey have the stomach for a fight

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

Andy Awford believes his Pompey players have the stomach for a fight ahead of tonight’s FA Cup replay at Aldershot.

The Blues boss revealed there had been an angry exchange between some of his team at half-time in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Plymouth, but insisted it has stayed within acceptable boundaries.

And he believes it shows his players have the passion to put things right and claim a place in the second round with victory in tonight’s televised clash on BT Sport.

Awford said: ‘The players had a row and there were a few raised voices at half-time, which you would expect.

‘It’s no different to when I played.

‘There were a few frustrations, I walked into it and calmed people down.

‘Players will tell each other when something is not right but it’s never personal.

‘I have no problem with a player telling another one he’s not happy but it can’t get personal.

‘It needs to be for the better of the team.

‘If it gets personal then I will jump in, but it didn’t go beyond a few raised voices.

‘It shows they care and they want to put things right, starting at Aldershot.’

Awford himself adopted a more reasoned approach at Home Park, although admitted to losing his temper in the first Cup tie with the Shots.

He said: ‘I lose my rag, of course I do, but I didn’t do that at Plymouth. It wasn’t the right thing to do.

‘I was angry and disappointed inside, as we all were, but I needed to be constructive.

‘You can’t go in screaming and shouting every time. Sometimes you need to be more controlled.

‘I’ve done that (screaming and shouting) more when we have been in winning positions and I did it at half-time against Aldershot.

‘The players got the full wrath because it was 1-1 and we had stepped off it and got too comfortable.’

Awford has analysed the failings of the performance at Plymouth and is now looking for a reaction from his side.

‘I’ve watched the game back and people didn’t do enough,’ he said.

‘It was nowhere near good enough.

‘Tonight would still have been a big game, regardless of what happened at Plymouth.

‘But we need that reaction, just as we did after the Bury game.

‘I’ve no doubt we have the quality, the skill and the players to go and do it, but the mentality has to be right.’

With the Shots replay set to be settled on the night, a penalty shoot-out may be required if the scores are level after 90 minutes and extra-time.

‘We haven’t practised them rigidly in a session but the players themselves have done that,’ said Awford. ‘It’s hard to recreate that environment.

‘But I know my starting XI and I know my five penalty-takers if they are on the pitch.

‘I’m hoping we get the job done before it gets to that.’