Caretaker boss looking for another three-point haul
Andy Awford’s stint in charge of Pompey got off to the perfect start against Newport last week.
But the caretaker Blues boss wants his players to remember that the job is not yet done.
Victory at Rodney Parade saw Pompey move five points clear of the League Two relegation zone with just six games left to play.
And Awford wants the same outcome this weekend when Hartlepool make the long trip south to Fratton Park.
He said: “The Newport result gave everyone a spring in their step, but it’s one victory and we look forward to facing Hartlepool now.
“We just need to make sure we get more points than two other teams and I don’t care how we do that.
“The gap’s opened up and we want it to open up even more, so it all starts again here on Saturday.
“There’s a lot of hard work still ahead of us, but I’m confident that we’ll get there if we continue to do the right things.
“I’ve asked the guys to enjoy their football, while playing in a positive manner and with a smile on their face.
“It’s not just about all the nice things – they need to enjoy defending and closing down as well.
“Of course I’d prefer it to be an open, free-flowing game, but I’d also take a scrappy 1-0 because winning is the most important thing.
“We’re just keeping things basic at the moment. There’s no point in me trying to reinvent the wheel because we haven’t got the time.
“It’s about being organised and having some structure, while trying to drip-feed some ideas to the players.”
Hartlepool sit four points above Pompey in 14th position, but have lost their last three matches.
Awford said: “They’re a very good side who are sitting quite comfortably in mid-table at the moment and will be thinking that a decent run of results might see them sneak into the play-offs.
“We certainly won’t have it all our own way and there needs to be a lot of hard work to get three points.
“They play the right way and I’ve got a lot of respect for their manager Colin Cooper, who’s a top guy.
“We’ll welcome them to Fratton, but we need that place rocking on Saturday to make sure they’re under a bit of pressure.”
Pompey are set for another big attendance this weekend and Awford believes the fans have an important role to play.
He said: “They’re invaluable for us and we need that 12th man. I don’t take it for granted, but I know we’ll get that support.”
Pompey will assess the fitness of Jack Whatmough, who was substituted at Newport with a hip injury, ahead of the match.
Simon Ferry (back) and Danny East (ankle) have both returned to training, but Ryan Bird (groin) and Andy Barcham (thigh) are still sidelined, while Ben Chorley serves the third match of his four-game ban.
A minute’s applause will be held before Saturday’s match in memory of four-year-old Jack Robinson, who tragically passed away earlier in the week.