Locking horns with Stags is key for Pompey

Andy Awford and Southend boss Phil Brown

Andy Awford and Southend boss Phil Brown

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Southend boss Phil Brown insisted ‘there’s a way to play against Pompey’.

The Shrimpers boss then brought out the heavy artillery up front on the way to a 2-0 win at Roots Hall last month.

Newport County also enjoyed success over the Blues in August, after subjecting Andy Awford’s side to a physical assault.

Now Mansfield Town arrive at Fratton Park tomorrow as Pompey prepare to deal with another forceful style of play.

The Stags are expected to attempt to rough up Awford’s men off the back of a long-ball approach.

Awford called on his men to go ‘toe-to-toe’ with Paul Cox’s side tomorrow.

And the Pompey boss is certain if his team do that, their quality will carry them to victory.

Awford said: ‘I’m really confident that, if we compete, and do the horrible side of the game first, our quality will come through.

‘That will be the case for the majority of games this season.

‘If we don’t compete and go under, like we did at Southend when we went behind, you will not win football matches.

‘It’s important you have that mentality to compete first and foremost. You have to compete and show desire.

‘You have to go toe-to-toe with them. You have to win the battle with your opponent.

‘You have to win the first and second header, you have to win the tackle and you have to pass it to your team-mate. You have to win your individual battles.

‘If you win more than them, you will win the game.

‘I do believe we have the extra bit of quality.

‘We’ve seen that at Yeovil, when Jed scores against Exeter, and against the likes of Northampton and Peterborough.

‘We’ve seen it. The quality is there without a shadow of a doubt.

‘Even in the draws against Hartlepool and York, you can see we have that extra bit of quality.

‘If we do it right we can then go and hurt teams. That’s the mentality we have.’

Awford explained he was prepared to take negative results against teams operating with a physical approach on the chin himself.

He was aware Brown suggested a certain manner of playing would reap dividends against the Blues.

‘I picked up on what was said (Brown’s comments). I looked at his team selection against us,’ said Awford.

‘He leaves Conor Clifford out, who is a footballer. He leaves Shaquile Coulthirst out, who’s a footballer.

‘Then he brings Barry Corr and Gary Deegan in and beefs it up.

‘I wasn’t surprised Corr played after how he played in the previous season. I was surprised how Deegan did instead of Clifford, though.

‘I’m a new manager and I have to learn quickly.

‘The defeat against Newport was as much down to me, what I selected and how I set us up.

‘That’s a learning curve for me. That game should have been 0-0.

‘But I made mistakes with team selection, team shape and personnel. That’s something I’ve learnt.

‘Maybe when we play Newport next time we will have a different type of player in there. I’m learning.’