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AWFORD: THAT’S A START

20 December 2014

Boss delighted with performance at Cheltenham

There has been plenty of festive gloom around Fratton Park following back-to-back defeats for the Blues.

So Nigel Atangana provided some Christmas cheer by grabbing an equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Cheltenham.

The French midfielder netted with a superb strike after the interval to cancel out Omari Sterling-James’ opener.

It was a much improved performance from Pompey, who were arguably the more threatening side at Whaddon Road.

And while disappointed to take home one point instead of all three, Andy Awford was delighted with the reaction of his players.

The Blues boss said: “I’m pleased with the performance, which was excellent. We came with a game-plan and the players carried it out.

“We wanted to keep things tight and grow into the game as it went on.

“I thought we were unfortunate to go in behind at the break – it’s the only shot on target I can remember them having.

“We weren’t defensive, but we wanted to catch them on the counter-attack. I think we upped the quality in the second half and created more chances.

“The lads dug in and showed plenty of character. We probably deserved to win the game on the basis of our possession and chances created.

“I thought we totally dominated after half-time and although we would have liked a win, that’s a start.

“We’ve now got something to build on going into a busy period just after Christmas.”

Awford reserved special praise for Atangana, who scored his first goal in professional football with an effort that crashed in off the underside of the crossbar.

He said: “It was a fantastic finish from Nigel – what a strike! I’m delighted for him because he hasn’t had too many opportunities, but I thought it was the right time for him and boy did he deliver.

“He came in over the summer and hit the ground running, but then he had his hamstring injury and we took him out of the firing line for a bit.

“But he’s trained really hard, is a great lad to work with and I’m pleased that he’s got his first goal. It was a wonderful finish.

“I have to give credit to Paul Jones as well because he made a fantastic save when the score was at 1-0 and we then went down the other end of the pitch to equalise.

“He had to keep his concentration because for long periods of the game he had nothing to do.”

Awford was also impressed with the 1,077 travelling fans who made the trip to Cheltenham just before Christmas.

He said: “I have to say that our supporters were absolutely magnificent – yet again.

“I think it was important that we went over to them as a group after the game because we’re all in this together.”

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