First of all, Happy 116th Birthday Pompey! The club enjoyed it’s special day with 3 huge points and a wonderful atmosphere at home in Fratton today. Andy Awford claimed his second win in his second game as caretaker manager, and the fans certainly let him know they love him.
The game was attended by several ex-Pompey players/legends following the Hall of Fame Evening the night before, including: Mark Chamberlain, Arijan De Zeeuw and Noel Blake.
A minute’s applause was also honoured before the game to celebrate the life of 4-year-old Pompey fan Jack Robinson, who sadly passed away in the week.
POMPEY TEAM: Carson; Webster, N’Gala, Whatmough, Shorey; Ferry (c) (McCabe), Hollands; Wallace, Fogden (Ertl), Holmes (Drennan); Taylor
SUBS: Smith, Devera, Bradley, Ertl, McCabe, Drennan, Jervis
What a start to the game the Blues saw- 90 seconds in, and a free kick from 35 yards is swung in by Ricky Holmes and is met well by Ryan Taylor who forces a great save out of the Hartlepool ‘keeper, only of the ball to fall to youngster Adam Webster who tapped home. The academy breakthrough was making his first appearance of the season following a successful loan spell at Aldershot.
POMPEY 1-0 HARTLEPOOL
AA’s men didn’t stop there, immediately attacking again after the restart. Wes Fogden, who was excellent all day, weaves into the penalty area and was tripped.
PENALTY TO POMPEY:
Ryan Taylor stepped up to try and convert penalty 3 of the season, only to see his effort well saved again by the keeper.
The atmosphere had already become something to behold, with not a single period of silence to follow and the fight was back in Pompey- something that was missing under Barker.
The other notable chance among the battle was Danny Hollands’ solo effort which was saw his shot just deflected over the bar for a corner.
HT: POMPEY 1-0 HARTLEPOOL
A very impressive first half performance, the like of which we hadn’t seen for a long time. There was also more to follow…
Pompey started strongly again after the break, with a carbon copy chance to double the lead, only this time Holmes’ free kick was just over the heads of everybody and went out for a goal kick.
The chanting did not let up either, with a special 15 minute period in which ‘Andy Awford’s Blue-White Army’ was continuously sung- the fans letting Awfs know how they feel about him.
More chances to double the lead followed, with Jed Wallace having the pick of the bunch after an incredible 40/50 yard run which saw his shot turned past the post by the Pool keeper.
As the game went on, frustration came from the Blues fans during countless times in which Hartlepool players went down with clearly nothing wrong with them. This led to 6 minutes injury time in which Hartlepool came at us looking to snatch an undeserved point.
That goal did not come for them however, with some excellent defending from AA’s men. Amongst the chanting, the final whistle blew and a huge raw came from around the ground.
FT: POMPEY 1-0 HARTLEPOOL
On her birthday, Pompey secured three massive points as the relegation battle began to swing in our favour. The result moves us up to 19th in the table, but as teams around us won, including Northampton, we remain just 5 points above the relegation zone.
At the end of the match after all the players applauded the fans and vies-versa, Awfs let out his emotion with a great fist punch to the fans. The man clearly has Pompey blood, and management led Pompey to their first back to back wins since March 2013!
Pompey now have 5 games left to secure survival in the Football League, including a massive home game against Bristol Rovers who are 1 point behind us, and a huge away game at Northampton who are 5 points behind. I believe Awfs can get us through it though- he’ll keep us up and we’ll be able to rebuild next year.
An all round brilliant day for the Blues: An incredible atmosphere, a great, fighting performance, and most of all, 3 points.
Awford deserves a lot of credit for the way he’s gone about his caretaker manager role, as not only has he got the players playing again, he’s gained more live and support for himself than he already had, which really should have been impossible!
He clearly felt the importance of the win, after letting out his emotions after the FT whistle, which was a fantastic moment between him and the fans. He’s also gained the support of the dressing room immediately, and he left a message on all the player’s lockers prior to kick off today which read: ‘Smile, Enjoy and Win!’. What a legend and what a man.